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Cheltenham Festival day two: Sky Pirate wins the Grand Annual Chase

Nick Schofield rode to Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase glory on Sky Pirate, beating odds-on favourite Embitterred (9/2) in the process.

Rachel Blackmore, who was riding Joseph Patrick O’Brien’s horse, was unseated for the third time today only 24 hours after becoming the first-ever female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Sky Pirate (14/1), who’s trained by Cheltenham-based Jonjo O’Neill, finished just inches ahead of Entoucas (7/1) after an astonishing final sprint, with Ibleo (9/1) and On the Slopes (16/1) crossing the line in third and fourth place respectively.

Just over four months ago, jockey Nick Schofield broke his leg in a freak accident at Fontwell Park Racecourse, but came back today to beat his competitors to the line.

He also disrupted the Irish dominance on St. Patrick’s Day when he became the first English winner on day two of The Cheltenham Festival.

An emotional Schofield spoke to ITV Racing afterwards: “I ride for good people, on nice horses; you’ve got to be grateful for what you have.

Live Blog: follow all the latest sports news from around Gloucestershire as Cheltenham Festival reaches day two

“I can’t thank Mr Tedham [Martin Medham, Owner] and Jonjo [O’Neill] enough for giving me the chance today.

“I’m just so grateful I got the opportunity. The horse is a star.”

Trainer, and former Cheltenham Gold Cup champion O’Neill, also spoke to ITV: “This great Cheltenham is magical. If you get a win here then the season is going well and everything is amazing

“It’s great for Nick [Schofield] and Martin [Medham], he’s been an amazing person this year.”

With the bookmakers all siding with the likes of Embitterred, Chosen Mate (7/1) and Entoucas, Sky Pirate had to put in an admirable performance.

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The eight-year-old Bay Gelding spent most of the race towards the middle of the pack, but pulled off a great finish to claim the victory.

After crossing the line with a time of 3m 55.44s, Sky Pirate secured Medham £46, 423 worth of winnings.

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