The David Pipe-trained Western Warhorse (6g Westerner-An Banog, by Anshan) starred for Westerner on the opening day of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival when taking the G1 Arkle Chase.
The six-year-old showed great resilience to get up in a photo when carrying Roger Brookhouse’s colours to success from Champagne Fever in the two-mile contest.
“I’m surprised, relieved and very happy to have a winner. I’d been trying to persuade the owner (Roger Brookhouse) for the past two weeks not to run in this but luckily I didn’t get my way!,” said Pipe.
“Tom (Scudamore) gave him a canny ride because we said to bounce off in front. But they went a stride too quick for him so he waited. I thought he’d be second until the last few strides. You’ve got to stay at Cheltenham and he really stayed up that hill.
“Roger bought him from Brightwells and he’d shown some good form in points in Ireland. He jumped very well on his run for us at Doncaster.
“It’s great for Roger, who has been a great supporter of ours, and he’s always dreamed about having a Queen Mother horse. Hopefully he has one now.”
Jockey Tom Scudamore added: “The way he has jumped over the first couple, I couldn’t go the pace but his jumping has kept me in it the whole way through.
“It’s only coming down the hill, they have all taken me on, and I thought ‘I am happy, I’m going to run all right and let’s see what happens’. Suddenly, I have winged the third last and I thought that we could be in for a bit of an upset because I knew I would keep on galloping, it was just whether they were going to gallop faster.
“As soon as I got a good stride at the last, from there I always thought that I would get Ruby (Walsh on the second Champagne Fever). I have kept on going and my horse has really attacked the hill.
“We bought him to be a three-mile chaser and he has gone and won the Arkle – it’s extraordinary.”
Western Warhorse was bred by Harry Kavanagh and bought by Roger Brookhouse for £130,000 at Brightwells’ Cheltenham Sale in December 2012.