Taquin takes BetVictor Gold to end Jonjo O'Neill's barren spell in style
Taquin Du Seuil bounced back to form at the scene of his finest of hour to give trainer Jonjo O'Neill a much-needed winner with victory in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Having won just once since his 2014 JLT Novices' Chase triumph at the Festival, the nine-year-old showed he still retains plenty of ability as he lifted the Grade Three contest, presenting Jackdaws Castle handler O'Neill with his first winner of the month.
Although much of the focus before the race centered on the winner's stablemate and former World Hurdle winner More Of That, who was sent off the 7-2 favourite, his chances were over a long way out with Barry Geraghty sending out distress signals more than a mile from home.
After enjoying the run of the race out in front from the word go, Village Vic was joined by the strong-travelling Aso rounding the home turn, with Taquin Du Seuil a couple of lengths back in third in a breakaway group of three.
With Aso making a costly mistake at the last, it looked as though Village Vic was on track to claim a third course win but as the post loomed, the Philip Hobbs-trained runner could not quite last out, with 8-1 chance Taquin Du Seuil collaring him by a neck in the final strides.
Last year's runner-up Buywise stayed on from the back of the field to finish a further two lengths away in third.
O'Neill, celebrating his third win in the race, said: "I feel very good. He did everything right. He travelled well and the drop of rain helped last night. The plan went together well.
"He was in great form at home and he had a lovely prep run at Chepstow and had no hiccups since then.
"Turning for home I thought he was in trouble, but he did keep galloping. He loves this place which also helps. (With) the drop of rain last night, my prayers were answered.
"He needs a really good gallop and you do get a good gallop in those better handicaps. By the water I was thinking Aidan (Coleman) needed to be handier.
"We will probably come back here in a month's time. I need to talk to the owners first but that's the first thing that comes into my mind.
On More Of That, he added: "More Of That was very disappointing I really don't know what happened. I don't know if the wind operation worked or not. He had been going great at home but he was beaten a long way out."
Coleman said: "The middle part of the race, I was not happy and it was a salvage operation and turning down the back, I was not happy with everything.
"To be fair, coming down the hill he came alive, but the middle part of the race was touch and go.
"I've had a tough couple of weeks with injuries but I'm here now and I'm very happy. Jonjo is a fantastic man to ride for."
A rematch between the first two could be on the cards with Philip Hobbs hinting that Village Vic is likely to return to the track next month for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
He said: "He has ran the race of his life. I thought jumping the last he would win, but that's not where the winning post is. He is very genuine.
"I suppose the obvious thing to do is come back for the race here in a month's time."
As for third-placed Buywise, a return to the track next month may not be on the agenda according to trainer Evan Williams.
He said: "He loves races where it turns into a war of attrition. A few lads have ridden him and they've tried all sorts of things, but going hunting is the most sensible thing.
"You can't go gunning around. He has been placed in another BetVictor and you can't knock him.
"A lot of people are negative about him as he is always the bridesmaid, but he is a horse that is very genuine on his day.
"I might come back here next month, but I've a few more horses that I might slot into that race. Let's see how he comes out of it."
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Source: At The Races