Shane Fitzgerald shines as Commander Of Fleet lands Coral Cup

Commander Of Fleet got up on the line in a thrilling, head-bobbing finish to the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle under a well-judged ride from 5lb claimer Shane Fitzgerald.

The Gordon Elliott-trained winner, sent off at 50-1, was one of the few guaranteed to enjoy the testing ground and big field, having won a 23-runner handicap at Navan in early December.

The Jessica Harrington-trained Ashdale Bob set sensible fractions in front for the conditions and was still going well in front turning for home, jumping the last three lengths clear of his 22 rivals.

However, the stamina-sapping ground proved his undoing. Jack Foley’s mount tired soon after, as Fastorslow and Commander Of Fleet bore down on the seven-year-old, who faded quickly, eventually finishing third, a further five and a half lengths behind the front two in the two-miles-five-furlong contest.

Darragh O’Keefe’s mount looked to have got the better of the scrap to the line and in a titanic battle, briefly got his head in front, only for Commander Of Fleet to get his head down when it mattered to score by a short head.

Camprond who was always stalking the pace, did not find much from the second-last and finished fourth.

The victory was the first for Elliott at the Festival after missing last year’s meeting due to the suspension he was given when an image emerged on social media of him sitting on a dead horse on his gallops.

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