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Racing: GODS SMILE ON FATHER TED AGAIN; Dream team's hat-trick.

THE gods smiled again on Ted and Ruby Walsh at Punchestown yesterday when Commanche Court scored an amazing win in the pounds 120,000 Heineken Gold Cup, before a record 26,000 crowd.

Never travelling as well as when landing the Powers Gold Label Irish Grand National just nine days earlier, 'Commanche' looked in trouble in fourth place before the race changed dramatically at the third last fence.

Long-time leader Micko's Dream crashed out, bringing down veteran Doran's Pride, which was a close second, clear of the chasing pack.

Favourite Stormyfairweather was left in front and Commanche Court badly hampered, being brought to a virtual standstill as he jumped Micko's Dream on the ground.

Then, approaching the second last, Stormyfairweather almost ran out, bringing Addington Boy with him, before both recovered momentum.

This action left MacGeorge in front over the penultimate fence but, approaching the last, four horses battled it out, with Addington Boy rallying to have every chance.

Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh had roused Commanche Court to challenge and, having touched down in front, Dermot Desmond's seven-year-old powered on to beat Addington Boy by four and a half lengths, with Mulligan third.

"How could you believe it?" asked a stunned Ted Walsh later. "Two Grand Nationals and now this. He's a great little horse. And he has a good owner, a good jockey and not a bad trainer.

"I wouldn't say he was lucky, but Doran's Pride was unlucky when he was brought down.

"But our horse had to jump Micko's Dream, who was stretched on the ground.

"I thought we had a chance once they jumped the second last because there's no better scrapper around than this fellow. He's a great battler."

Mick Fitzgerald, rider of Stormyfairweather, picked up a two-day ban for careless riding.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:O'Hehir, Peter
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 4, 2000
Words:296
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