Smad Place wins Gold Cup trial at Cheltenham as Alan King claims five-timer

Richard Johnson on Smad Place
Smad Place finished eighth in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup

Smad Place was part of a five-timer for trainer Alan King as he won the Betbright Chase at Cheltenham.

The 9-2 chance took advantage of a fall by odds-on favourite Djakadam to triumph by 12 lengths.

Ridden by Richard Johnson, Smad Place was leading when Gold Cup favourite Djakadam fell on the second circuit.

King also scored at Cheltenham with Annacotty and Yanworth, and had wins at Doncaster with Ziga Boy and McCabe Creek.

King has not decided whether Smad Place will race in the Gold Cup over three miles and two furlongs - one furlong more than Saturday's trip - or the Ryanair Chase over the shorter trip of two miles and five furlongs.

"The Gold Cup could be exceptional this year," he said.

"He's in the Ryanair; he's in the Gold Cup. He'll run in one of them and I'm not going to be committed today. I might change my mind."

Djakadam remains about a 4-1 shot for the Cheltenham Festival showpiece, battling for the status of favourite with stable-mates Vautour and Don Poli, fellow Irish challenger Don Cossack and English hope Cue Card.

Djakadam and jockey Ruby Walsh got up quickly from their fall and Djakadam owner Rich Ricci said the seven-year-old, trained by Willie Mullins, had suffered a flesh wound.

"It wasn't the ideal Gold Cup prep run, but he'll be all right and that's the important thing," Ricci said.


Horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

This was a huge day for British racing on the road to March's Cheltenham Festival.

Such has been the recent dominance of Ireland-based Willie Mullins that one had almost began to think all he had to do was roll up on 15 March and carry all before him.

But the rare setback for Mullins with Djakadam falling, and the five-timer for Alan King, plus notable successes for fellow 'Brit' horses including Thistlecrack and Barters Hill at Cheltenham, indicates the Mullins team won't have it all their own way.

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