Jessica Harrington's winners paraded through Moone
On Sunday evening, March 19th, Sizing John, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, and his stablemates Supasundae, winner of the Coral Cup, and Rock The World, winner of the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, attracted a big crowd as they were paraded through trainer Jessica Harrington's home village of Moone, Co Kildare.
The three Cheltenham Festival winners received a rousing reception from a crowd estimated at between 700 and 800 people of all age groups, including several photographers and film crews who lined the street for the return of the festival heroes.
Moscow Flyer, three times a Cheltenham Festival winner for Harrington and twice a winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, never received such a homecoming and Harrington commented:
"Winning the Champion Chase was a big thing in itself but the Gold Cup is the real pinnacle and I'm thrilled that so many people have turned out to see Sizing John and our two other winners.
"I was fairly wrecked yesterday but I think I've had a grin on my face since the Gold Cup and the achievement is slowly sinking in. All three of our winners have come home in great nick and being to Cheltenham certainly doesn't seem to have flattened them but it's not the time yet to be talking about plans."
Jessica Harrington added: "It was a huge week for us all. We had six runners and three of them won. I was delighted for Alan and Ann Potts that Sizing John won the Gold Cup. Alan was very emotional and almost speechless afterwards.
"All our staff deserve huge credit for the success we had and I felt very sorry for Aideen Byrne who looks after Supasundae. She broke a leg recently and was unable to go to Cheltenham."
Harrington praised Robbie Power for his riding of Sizing John and Supasundae. "Robbie gave both horses super rides", she said.
Power, who was riding at Limerick yesterday, arrived in time for the celebrations while his parents, Con and Mags, were also present.
Con Power, a famous figure in Irish show-jumping and a former trainer, said: "I wasn't at Cheltenham. I'm superstitious and after I missed Rob's Grand National win on Silver Birch ten years ago due to being at a horse show in France, I decided not to jinx him by going to the Festival. I'm absolutely delighted for him."
Those there to see Ireland's latest Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and his two stablemates parade through Moone included 11-time champion jockey Ruby Walsh, his wife Gillian and their three daughters.
Jessica Harrington concluded: "Winning the Gold Cup with our first runner and Robbie's first ride in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup made it extra special and Rock The World winning the Grand Annual, which is named after our great friend Nicky Henderson's father, was the perfect finale to a fantastic week for us and for Irish-trained horses in general.”
CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, Brian Kavanagh, who also attended the homecoming, remarked: “It’s brilliant to see such a great turnout for Jessie, her team and her stable stars – it’s a homecoming they truly deserve. We hope to see these horses back on the track at Fairyhouse Easter Festival or our National Hunt finale at Punchestown.”