Road To Respect wins Leopardstown Christmas Chase

Road To Respect charges to the finish line under Sean Flanagan to win the Leopardstown Christmas Chase
Road To Respect charges to the finish line under Sean Flanagan to win the Leopardstown Christmas Chase

Road To Respect powered to victory in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase on Thursday as Gold Cup winner Sizing John trailed in seventh.

The 16-1 winner, ridden by Sean Flanagan and trained by Noel Meade, came through on the run-in to triumph.

Road To Respect was chased home by Henry de Bromhead's Balko Des Flos (66-1) and Outlander (8-1).

Sizing John was distressed following the race and found to be clinically abnormal after being examined.

The Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John was a distant seventh under Robbie Power, who said his mount "was never going".

Noel Meade will aim Road To Respect, who backed up his other Grade One success in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase in April, firmly at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

"Everything went according to plan and the hood obviously worked well," said Meade.

"Sean rode him the other day and he said maybe a hood might help him to settle early on. He settled great and he gave him a most beautiful ride.

"I suppose when it works out it's always a great ride, but it was actually an absolute peach of a ride.

"He's a Gold Cup contender now, so he'll go for the Gold Cup. Whether he runs in between or not, I don't know."

Meanwhile, eight-times Grade One winner Nichols Canyon, the only horse to beat the mighty Faugheen, suffered a fatal injury when falling at the fifth flight in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle.

Analysis

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

Might Bite apart, the Gold Cup picture is looking murky. Sizing John, who won in great style early in December, was never entirely happy here, but he did loom up briefly at the third last before fading.

Ultimately, he was beaten so far that it's not surprising to hear vets believe there is a problem, and will be carrying out tests.

However, the thinking that he was merrily sailing on towards a Cheltenham repeat must now go on hold. Yorkhill (8th and last) looks out of the reckoning, while big-race regular Djakadam was let down by his jumping before being pulled up.

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