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Blue Lord (green cap): clung on to defeat Riviere D’Etel in an Irish Arkle thriller
By Peter Scargill
Blue Lord seized an unlikely victory in the Grade 1 Irish Arkle Novice Chase after taking advantage of a crucial last-fence error from Riviere D’Etel and surviving a subsequent stewards’ inquiry.
Saint Sam had pressed on into a clear lead down the far side of the course, but as the field reached the penultimate fence it was apparent that the finish would be fought out by Blue Lord and Riviere D’Etel, who moved into the lead between the final two fences.
While neither jockey was in trouble nearing the final fence, Riviere D’Etel held a clear lead and was making the most of her weight allowance and accurate jumping. Unfortunately for her, that accuracy deserted her at the last as she landed too steeply and lost her momentum.
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Riviere D’Etel makes a crucial mistake at the last with Blue Lord in pursuit
At that moment, Blue Lord swept into the lead under jockey Paul Townend and stole a decent margin on his rival. To her credit, Riviere D’Etel rallied gamely on the run to the finish but was unable to peg back Blue Lord, who scored by a half a length.
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The victory was a third in as many races at the Dublin Racing Festival for trainer Willie Mullins, all three being Grade 1s, after the successes of Vauban and Minella Cocooner.
Blue Lord retained favoritism for the Sporting Life Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival with his success, although he was eased to a general 11-4 (from 5-2) with Edwardstone second favorite at 3-1. Riviere D’Etel was clipped to 4-1 (from 6) to land the prize.
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