Porlock Bay wins St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

Porlock Bay storms through to win St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase in photo finish after a thrilling duel with Paul Townend’s 5/2 favourite Billaway

Porlock Bay and Billaway fought out a thrilling finish to the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase, with the former just prevailing in a photo.

With amateurs currently unable to ride due to coronavirus restrictions, Lorcan Williams took the mount on Will Biddick’s 10-year-old, who was having just his second start in Britain after previously running in France.

Porlock Bay (16-1) could be spotted travelling supremely well from some way out, but favourite Billaway – who was second to It Came To Pass last year – proved a tough nut to crack, matching strides after jumping the last.

Porlock Bay edged the St James’s Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase on Friday

It was nip and tuck all the way to the line, with Porlock Bay just grabbing the glory on the nod, with Staker Wallace back in third and pace-setting Latenightpass in fourth.  

Williams said: ‘I’m very lucky, I’d like to thank Will so much. As soon as he found out amateurs weren’t allowed to ride, I was sat on the sofa and he gave me a call and said ‘we’re going to win the Foxhunter this year’. My god was he right.

‘The thing was, he was jumping so well down the back, I was actually in amongst horses turning into the back. I thought ‘he’s a small horse, just give him a bit of light through the back’, and he’s jumped through my hands.

It was a frantic finish as Lorcan William (L) held off ther 5/2 favourite, Paul Townend's Billaway

It was a frantic finish as Lorcan William (L) held off ther 5/2 favourite, Paul Townend’s Billaway

Williams said he was 'very lucky' after winning in a photo finish on day four of Cheltenham

Williams said he was ‘very lucky’ after winning in a photo finish on day four of Cheltenham

‘To be honest, I didn’t want to hit the front too soon at the top of the hill. I was just trying to fill him up before we came up the hill. I can’t believe it.’ 

Biddick added: ‘I’ve been a bag of nerves all day, I started crying when he was coming up the run in. A big softy. It’s an unbelievable feeling, unbelievable.

‘Lorcan gave it an absolute peach, he got a good ride on him at Wincanton and today he’s just jumped and travelled. He had no trouble, he was good enough and he was put in the right position to be finishing it off. He held on.’

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