ONLY a Yorkshireman would describe a Cheltenham Gold Cup win as “pretty good”. Those were the succinct words of Alan Potts after Sizing John became the 24th Irish-trained winner of steeplechasing’s signature race.
Brought up in Great Houghton near Barnsley, the mining engineering tycoon and his wife Ann fell in love with National Hunt racing more than a decade ago when they tried to buy a point-to-point horse off Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead.
Told the prospective purchase was injured, Potts and his wife Ann chose to reward such honesty with their patronage, with Sizing Europe carrying their now distinctive green, yellow and red colours to Queen Mother Champion Chase glory in 2011.
However Potts, who now lives on the Isle of Man, did not hesitate to move his horses from the de Bromhead yard last year after a poor run, with many going to West Country trainer Colin Tizzard and Sizing John joining the County Meath stables of Jessica Harrington.
He also spent a record £480,000 for an Irish point-to-point winner last November when purchasing Flemenshill, who is now in training with Tizzard.
“It’s the first horse we have ever run in the Gold Cup, and only a couple of weeks after we won the Irish Gold Cup with Sizing John. Pretty good,” he said.
“It has always been our dream to win this, ever since we got into this game about 12 years ago.
“I invest heavily so that we can hopefully pick the best horses, and when you win a race like this, this is unreal.”
Big race jockey Robbie Power praised the owners for agreeing to step their horse up in trip.
“Thanks to Ann and Alan Potts for letting us go up in trip with him,” said the jockey, who won Wednesday’s Coral Cup on the Potts-owned and Harrington-trained Supasundae. “They have put a lot of money into the game.”
Harrington concurred, saying: “Alan and Ann have really wanted to win the Gold Cup. I do feel very sorry for Henry de Bromhead; with this horse and Supasundae, he did all the hard work, I have only inherited them.
“I only got them in September, I had to get to know them, how to train them. Henry had done all the work and he bought them.
“This is right up there, it hasn’t sunk it yet. This is the Olympics of horse racing, and I have won the Gold Cup.”
Power had to cut short his media commitments so he could ride Harrington’s Rock The World in the concluding Grand Annual Chase, the aptly-named horse duly obliging for owner Michael Buckley.
Prior to this year the jockey had ridden just one winner at the Festival. Now he has had three in three days to cap a week of Irish domination with a record 19 winners trained in the Emerald Isle compared to just eight in Britain.
Though Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins both saddled six winners, the former was leading trainer because he had more second-place finishes while Ruby Walsh’s four winners on Thursday were sufficient for him to be top jockey.
Meanwhile, the Mullins-trained Douvan, so long the nemesis of Sizing John, has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his pelvis following his disappointing run in Wednesday’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.