- Freddie Gingell captured the hearts of Cheltenham in the Clarence House Chase
- The 18-year-old stood tall in his irons as he crossed line, looking to the heavens
- Gingell lost his mother, Kim, to cancer four years ago and he paid tribute to her
On a day when a Grand National winner roared back to form and a flying filly enhanced her sky-high reputation, something special was required to steal the headlines.
Step forward Freddie Gingell, the 18-year-old prodigy who conjured up a remarkable ride on Elixir De Nutz to thwart odds-on favourite Jonbon in the rescheduled Clarence House Chase. And, in the process, captured the hearts of Cheltenham.
Usually when a 22-1 shot gets the better of a 1-4 hotpot, the initial reaction on a racecourse is shocked silence. But this was different.
Gingell lost his mother, Kim, to cancer four years ago and he has carried his grief in the public eye as he has started to make his way as a conditional jockey.
So when he and his willing partner, trained by Joe Tizzard, cleared the final fence with a £59,798 first prize in their sights, a crowd of 24,290 bellowed him all the way home.
Freddie Gingell captured the hearts of Cheltenham in the Clarence House Chase on Saturday
The 18-year-old produced a remarkable ride on Elixir De Nutz to thwart odds-on favourite Jonbon
Gingell stood tall in his irons as he crossed the line, looking to the heavens and seemingly unable to comprehend the enormity of what he had achieved. ‘This is the most emotional success I’ve ever had and Mum was up there looking down on me,’ he said.
‘She played a massive part for me as a jockey. I could feel the will of the crowd but I felt her influence more than ever there. I could tell she was there with me.
‘The emotion does get to you on a day like this. She did so much for me, for Joe, for Colin [grandfather Colin Tizzard]. When she went, everything fell away for everyone, really. It was only then we realised just how much she did.
‘It’s my first ride in a Grade One and I’ve got my first win — honestly, I can’t believe it. As soon as I crossed the line, everything stopped and I could tell how [happy] the crowd were. I knew it was a big thing. I’m going to go home and watch it again — loads and loads and loads!’
Good on him. And there was so much to watch here, from Noble Yeats — the 2022 Aintree hero —denying Paisley Park in a thrilling Cleeve Hurdle and Lossiemouth streaking clear in the International Hurdle. But, improbably, Elixir De Nutz and Gingell made it all about them.
Gingell lost his mother, Kim, to cancer four years ago and he paid tribute to her after his win
Their cause was helped by Jonbon’s scruffy jumping — Nicky Henderson’s gelding cannot possibly win the Queen Mother Champion Chase on this evidence — but Gingell rode his mount beautifully.
His percentage of the winning purse has already been earmarked for a new gearbox for his Volkswagen Golf, following a malfunction last Thursday night. It meant his father, Dave, drove him to Cheltenham yesterday, but the return to Dorset was one they will not forget.
‘Jonbon had only ever been beaten by two horses before,’ Gingell added, in a state of shock.
‘One was Constitution Hill, the other was El Fabiolo. When Jonbon came to me, I thought he’d pick up and go away, but my lad produced an amazing last jump.
‘Now we’ve beaten him. I can’t believe it.’