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Racing: ON CLOUD NINE.

MOSCOW FLYER became `Ireland's number one' as he streaked home in the pounds 250,000 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Doubts over the jumping technique of last year's Arkle Chase winner were silenced as he hammered Native Upmanship (12-1)by seven lengths with Cenkos (7-1)a further three lengths back in third.

Although the race was marred as a spectacle when Seebald and Latalomne, disputing the lead, crashed out at the second-last fence,it was hard to believe Moscow Flyer would not ultimately have proved superior to either rival.

Old stager Edredon Bleu helped to cut out a fierce early pace with Latalomne and Tiutchev until the last-named came down at the fifth fence, forcing Tony McCoy to the deck for the third time at the meeting.

Such was the ferocity of the gallop that star chaser Florida Pearl was taken off his feet and forced into mistakes which ruined his chance.

Latalomne and Seebald had got to the front by the turn out of the back straight but despite making a blunder at the last open ditch, Moscow Flyer was travelling full of power and confidence on the outside.

Then at the second last fence, Vinnie Keane's worst nightmare came true as his mount seemed to slip on landing and fell sideways.

Independently, Seebald and Norman Williamson also came down,leaving Moscow Flyer, who neatly side stepped the melee, clear of his toiling opponents.

``Moscow Flyer has come out of the shadows of Istabraq in Ireland,'' said winning owner Brian Kearney. ``He was the number two but now he's number one!''

CAPTION(S):

REAL FLYER: Jockey Barry Geraghty leaps for joy after his victory on Moscow Flyer in the Queen Mother Champion Chase
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 13, 2003
Words:285
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