(Reuters) - Frankie Dettori, more accustomed to riding big winners on the flat, celebrated a jumping success at the Cheltenham Festival when the horse he bred, Dodging Bullets, won the blue riband Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday.
Italian Dettori’s smile was as wide as the Cheltenham paddock as Sam Twiston-Davies steered Dodging Bullets to a narrow success in a thrilling three-horse battle to the line.
“I watched it with the owners... my legs were shaking a little bit,” former champion flat jockey Dettori, looking dapper in a red and white-striped tie and sporting a brown trilby, told Channel Four Racing.
“Unbelievable. Sam gave him a fantastic ride.
“He jumped like a stag and he guts it out to the line.”
Dettori has dipped his toes into the world of bloodstock but said he had expected to produce a horse capable of shining on the flat, rather than over jumps.
“It was meant to win the (Epsom) Derby but this is the second best — the Queen Mother Champion Chase — the equivalent of the 100 meters final at the Olympics,” he said.
It was a fifth success in the race for trainer Paul Nicholls, who won with Call Equiname (1999), Azertyuiop (2004) and Master Minded (2008 and 2009).
Nicholls will saddle favorite Silviniaco Conti in the Gold Cup on Friday.
Earlier, Irish trainer Willie Mullins, who dominated the opening day of jump racing’s showpiece with four winners on Tuesday, continued to hoover up the prize money when his Don Poli won the RSA Chase.
The favorite, now a leading contender for next year’s Gold Cup, gave jockey Bryan Cooper a poignant success.
Cooper broke his leg in a fall 12 months to the day at the Festival last year and said: I’m glad to put that behind and it’s sweet to get a winner on the board.”
Editing by Ken Ferris