'Luck was on our side' - Blackmore performs incredible sit to win match race
The much-anticipated chase debut of My Drogo went from dominance to destruction in a matter of seconds, as Dan Skelton's stable star suffered a slip and fall which allowed sole rival Gin On Lime to breeze home after an incredible recovery from Rachael Blackmore.
My Drogo was cruising throughout the 2m4f novice chase against his Irish-trained rival and, as they swung for home, was asked to quicken away and seal it. Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes's strapping son of Milan responded with a big leap over the second-last, but things weren't so smooth on landing.
His feet slipped as he suddenly crashed out, sending Harry Skelton into the path of Gin On Lime, who had also endured a slip, but Rachael Blackmore had miraculously clung on and was able to complete and collect the £13,000 on offer.
The stewards reviewed the incident and advised Blackmore to "take more time to assess the welfare of her mount" in similar circumstances.
"I was never happy anywhere," reflected Blackmore. "Luck was on our side. When Harry joined me turning in I thought he was going to go by me, but he didn't so she was going to battle a bit.
"She crumpled a little bit [on landing] but popped straight back up and didn't feel tired under me. She broke straight back into a canter and cantered down over the last and over the line. She was happy to go forward when I asked her to."
Paddy Power pushed My Drogo to 9-1 (from 8-1) for the Marsh Novices' Chase at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, although his trainer believes he lost nothing in defeat.
Trainer Skelton reflected: "He jumped the fence fine and then crumbled on landing and slid. I was delighted with him the whole way around, he jumped beautifully. He jumped the ditch at the top of the hill better than the mare and came back on to the bridle. He'd have won, we all know that.
"It's frustrating that he's not completed a race and that goes on his record, but that doesn't mean he's any less a horse. He would've cantered up the straight.
My Drogo, the match-race favourite, gallops away after he unseated jockey Harry Skelton Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
"They've gone a nice gallop which they don't usually do in a two-horse race and fair play to Rachael for staying on as she made a similar mistake. That's racing, we move on. Forget the slide, the rest of it was really good. I'm not worried, disappointed, but not worried.