Global Citizen (28-1) takes the Grade Three Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (2m) by three lengths from 100-30 Favourite Andy Dufresne.
It is a third Festival victory for locally-based trainer Ben Pauling and a second for jockey Kielan Woods.
Winning trainer Ben Pauling said:
“It doesn’t get better than having a Festival winner. We always kept faith in the horse when a lot of people had written him off, and he’s come back to himself. That was pretty much perfect. The track suited him brilliantly and although I thought at the top of the hill that he was running on fumes he filled himself up again and went for home. The difference from the last two runs is that he’s stayed on all the way to the line. It was a great ride from Kielan, who has won this race twice now.
“We were always going to try and come here and I thought that chucking him over a fence would mix it up a bit and bring him to life. He jumped brilliantly on ground I thought he’d hate. Maybe he likes it after all. I’m chuffed to pieces.
“We are moving to a new yard the week after Aintree and it’s great to go out on a Festival winner. We’ve only brought three runners, and if one goes in you are happy. He was our first, so we’ve still got two to go.”
Successful jockey Kielan Woods said:
“I’ll try to be a little bit calmer (than three years ago) but I honestly can’t believe that. Actually, we really fancied the horse, he’s been running really well over hurdles and was fourth in an Arkle around here once upon a time. We were worried about the rain there today but he’s just been holding his form all year in good races against good hurdlers and he’s not really a hurdler. When he ran up at Haydock two starts ago (when second to Tommy’s Oscar in the Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial) Ben and I said he could go in the County Hurdle and then we thought ‘what about the Grand Annual’, because of the way he jumps and how he keeps filling up. At the back of two out I thought somebody was going to come and get us but he jumped the last with his ears pricked so fair play to the horse.
“It’s a fantastic training performance from Ben because not many people would have got that horse back to doing that. He’s finished fourth in the Arkle once upon a time and he’s worked wonders to get him back so it’s fantastic.
“We went hard over the first three but turning down the back the first time Josh Moore was beside me (on Editeur Du Gite) and after chatting we were both happy with where we were. We quickened on going to three out and we stayed there so it’s just brilliant and I can’t believe it.
“In the closing stages I just thought ‘one was coming down that side and one was coming down that side’ and that we’d finish third and fourth but his ears were pricked and I was fairly confident that if somebody did come to him that he’d find more.
“It was absolutely brilliant I got the stable jockey job with Ben at the start of the year and I got injured when he was having loads of winners which wasn’t ideal. I came back and got injured again when he was having loads more but this tops it off to get a Festival winner together so it’s fantastic. Croco Bay was a fantastic horse for me and probably helped get me this job at Ben Pauling’s so I’ve a lot to thank him for but this was fantastic too and I can’t believe it. We’re riding all year and you want to be taking part here – my best friend Charlie Deutsch won a Grade One earlier on which is absolutely brilliant, but I’m pleased to get a slice of it so he can’t have all the bragging!
“It was an unreal feeling coming in. I remember it well last time, but watching all the winners coming in so far this year you kind of forget, so I was definitely going to enjoy it.”
Gordon Elliott, trainer of runner-up Andy Dufresne, said:
“He ran a good race but he gave a lot of weight away to the winner but we are very happy. It is great for Ben Pauling and I’m delighted for him. We planned to give him a light campaign until here as we wanted to come here fresh. We will get him home and see how he is then make a decision from there.”
Charlie Deutsch, rider of third home Frero Banbou, said:
“I’m really happy with him – he’s run well. I did think for a minute we were going to win, but he missed the last, which didn’t help. He was switched off early and came with a rattle at the end, which I definitely think is the way to ride him.”
Venetia Williams trainer of the third Frero Banbou, said:
“I’m very pleased. He’s run his best races by being held up and coming through late, so we wanted to stick with what works. But the horse was slightly disengaged in the first two or three fences, and he had to be then asked a question to come into the race, but he’s come through really well.”
Gary Moore, trainer of the fourth Editeur du Gite, said:
“The horse has run his heart out but he has come up against a well handicapped horse and I’m badly handicapped. He wasn’t right to go to the Game Spirit at Newbury as he wasn’t healthy, but he has run well here. It is just a shame he had so much weight on that ground. I’m not going to lie missing having that little setback before Newbury may have affected us. If he comes out of this OK, he will go to Aintree.”
The Jockey Club Press Release