Sublimity Wins Champion Hurdle

Tuesday, March 13th 2007, 1:22 pm

By: News On 6

CHELTENHAM, England (AP) _ Sublimity overtook former winners Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca at the last fence and raced clear to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

With 6-4 favorite Detroit City well back in the field of 10, Philip Carberry kept 16-1 shot Sublimity behind the two front runners until they approached the last.

The 7-year-old Irish trained gelding accelerated into the jump and pulled away to win the 360,000 pound (US$695,000; euro530,000) race by three lengths.

Last year's winner Brave Inca finished second with Ruby Walsh aboard and Afsoun, a 28-1 shot with Mick Fitzgerald in the saddle, got up to take third ahead of two-time winner Hardy Eustace.

Detroit City placed sixth after struggling throughout the 2-mile (3.2 kilometer) race.

``He's better over hurdles than he was over the flat. I have to give him top marks,'' said Carberry, whose father, Tom, rode three Cheltenham Gold Cup winners.

``He's beaten some fantastic horses in the shape of Brave Inca and Hardy Eustace, but he has beaten them on merit. I couldn't believe how well he was traveling going down to the last.''

Colm Murphy, trainer of Brave Inca, said he thought his 9-year-old was going to win the race for the second year in a row.

``I thought at the last we might still have a chance,'' Murphy said. ``I'm thrilled to bits, he's run his heart out and we were just beaten by a new kid on the block.''

Winner in 2004 and '05, Hardy Eustace was the early leader under Conor Dwyer with Detroit City handily placed back in fourth. But Richard Johnson was unable to get any early speed out of the favorite which slipped well back in the field.

Although Detroit City moved up in the second half of the race, he was never able to dispute the lead with Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca in control at the front.

``We are very disappointed. There may be something amiss but we will see how he is and watch him closely,'' Detroit City trainer Philip Hobbs said. ``He normally travels OK, even off a fast pace, but he couldn't keep up with them today.''

Philip Carberry's sister, Nina Carberry, also won on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival when she rode Heads Onthe Ground to victory in the Sporting Index Handicap Chase.

My Way De Solzen, with Robert Thornton aboard, romped to a six length victory in the 170,000 pound (US$328,000; euro250,000) Arkle Challenge Trophy.

The opening race of the meet, the Supreme Novices's Hurdle, was won by 40-1 shot Ebaziyan and rider Davy Condon.

The opening day had one casualty, Little Brick, who broke down with a leg injury in the William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase and had to be put down.

After last year's nine equine fatalities, Cheltenham owners have made the course safer by moving fences and widening bends on the undulating course.

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