Ryan Mania’s incredible comeback wins the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Midnight Shadow


Coole Cody was able to hold his own when he fell. Midnight Shadow, the rider of Ryan Mania (former Grand National hero) finished ahead Protektorat, Sir Alex Ferguson’s runner up

Ryan Mania’s incredible comeback on Midnight Shadow saw him win the dramatic renewal of Cheltenham’s 2021 Paddy Power Gold Cup.

The Sue Smith-trained chaser was upsides Coole cody when last years winner clipped top of the second fence and came down.

Midnight Shadow led the pack in the incident at the obstacle. It was the scene of much drama on Friday’s card.

After going strong, Mania’s mount looked at the last fence with a keen gallop and made a mistake that cost the pair momentum.

Seven of their competitors gathered together as they continued up the hill. Protektorat was part-owned and trained by Sir Alex Ferguson. He stayed strong to finish the winner down.

Mania was all the more happy after he reversed his October 2019 retirement decision.

Mania told ITV Racing: “He’s a proper horse this and in big fields like this you always worry that you’ve got enough horse to jump and travel and he goes out there and just does everything so easy.

“He has been so consistent at the yard. It is so satisfying to see him win big.

The jockey was asked if he knew that he was going hold on to his job. “I didn’t! We know what he’s like, he does idle in front. He’s like that at home. It’s a long run-in when you’re in front on your own like that.

“It’s simply amazing. It’s worth six hours driving to get to this place today.

Mania, who was 24 when he rode his first ride in this iconic race, took his 66-1 Grand National victory on Auroras Encore the year before.

Mania, who sustained a neck injury after a fall at Hexham, was airlifted to a hospital just 24 hours after his Aintree heroics.

Mania also said that he took a break from the saddle in 2011 because of ongoing weight struggles.

He has been a big winner since his return to the sport two years ago.

The Ultima Handicap Chase performance of Vintage Clouds at Cheltenham Festival was one of them.

Midnight Shadow held onto Protektorat for three-quarters of an inch, Lalor was third, and Dostal Phil was fourth.

The winner was the third Yorkshire-trained horse to triumph, after Neville Crump’s Cancello (1976) and the Ferdy Murphy-trained L’Antartique in 2007.

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Smith said: “I probably get more emotional these days because I’m that much older! It’s special, it’s special for everyone because we’re only a small yard and northern trainers don’t get to do this very often, so it’s lovely.

“I’ve probably got about 45-50 in training, but they are not all Midnight Shadows! I probably had a few more in when we won the National, but these are once-in-a-lifetime horses, the same as Auroras Encore was – and he’s still in the field looking very well now.

“He was bought at Doncaster by Harvey (Smith) and he was bred by Mr Smith-Maxwell who actually runs the horse ambulance service here.”

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