Village Vic wins at Cheltenham for Richard Johnson & Philip Hobbs

Richard Johnson & Village Vic
Johnson was celebrating his 156th winner of the season

Village Vic jumped superbly to lead home a Philip Hobbs-trained 1-2 in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

The 8-1 chance, ridden by Richard Johnson, beat stable-mate Champagne West (8-1) by four-and-a-half lengths for his third win of the season.

It was Hobbs's first win in the race since Monkerhostin in 2004, which had also been ridden by Johnson.

"I thought Richard was going too quick but it was just right and he kept going very well," said Hobbs.

"I could hardly have predicted they would be first and second.

"Village Vic looked to be very good and then had an injury but he has come back well."

The winner was carrying only 10st meaning Johnson, 38, had to watch his weight over the last few days.

"I wouldn't do 10st too often these days," he said. "But I always thought he had a great chance and it's been well worth the while."

Earlier, the Jonjo O'Neill-trained More Of That maintained his unbeaten record over fences by beating his two rivals in the Novice Chase and could be aimed at the Gold Cup in March.

The 2014 World Hurdle winner had almost a year off track before returning at the Gloucestershire track earlier this month.

And the fast-improving Old Guard put himself in contention for the Champion Hurdle at the Festival with a thrilling win in the International Hurdle for jockey Sam Twiston-Davies and trainer Paul Nicholls.

Old Guard fought it out with Sempre Medici and Hargam but favourite Peace and Co, who moved to the front early on, was unable to pick up when the pace quickened.

Analysis - BBC's Cornelius Lysaght

"The clue was perhaps in the weight achieved by Richard Johnson on Village Vic. Just like AP McCoy when he dominated the scene, Johnson, McCoy's runaway heir apparent, rarely diets down as low as 10 stone, the required weight here.

"And his hunger regime - he said afterwards he'd promised himself a big takeaway tonight - was spectacularly worthwhile as they led all the way for a storming success, Johnson's 156th of the first post-McCoy season when surely he will finally be champion."

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