Cromwell strikes at Cheltenham as Buckley lands 'dream' winner

Dick Donohoe also tasted success on another successful day for Irish trainers at Prestbury Park

Friday, November 11, 2022

Kieren Buckley celebrates his maiden Cheltenham success on board Sweet Will

Kieren Buckley’s improvement under Gavin Cromwell continued on Friday as the jockey earned a ‘dream’ maiden success at Cheltenham, writes Paul Martin.

Buckley joined forces with Cromwell in the summer following an impressive County Hurdle ride on My Mate Mozzie in March and returned to the same venue to sweep to victory on board Sweet Will in the Markel Insurance Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

The 8/1 shot held off joint-favourite Fine Casting to ease home by almost four lengths and leave Buckley searching for the right words to sum up his achievement.


“That was relief, elation and all sorts of emotions,” he said. “I’ve dreamed about this moment since I’ve started riding and I couldn’t believe it when we pinged the last and went away from the rest of them.

“I moved to Gavin’s in May and it’s a little poetic as my first ride for him was My Mate Mozzie in the County Hurdle here in March, after which he offered me the job, and to come back eight months later and ride him a winner is fantastic.

“I owe him a hell of a lot. My career wasn’t really going anywhere, I was getting lots of support off Nigel but that was it, and since I’ve gone to Gavin’s it’s really taken off.”

For Cromwell, the success marked the latest in a string of days to remember at Prestbury Park and the horse responsible for two of the best, Flooring Porter, is back in action this weekend.

The dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner races in a star-studded Railway Bar Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on Sunday, also set to feature 2022 Cheltenham Festival winners Bob Olinger and Commander Of Fleet.

Cromwell said: “He’s good and it’s a very good race. The ground is yielding at the moment and will be similar on Sunday.

“He probably won’t get to use his stamina as much as he’d like. He’s not fully wound up but he’s plenty fit enough to get started.”

Friday’s action at Cheltenham was bookended by Irish success as Dick Donohoe’s Contrapposto earned an excellent victory in the Valda Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

The 28/1 shot edged out Explosive Boy by a head with Michael O’Sullivan on board.

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