THEY fought Ga Law, and Ga Law won.
Mind you, like any good police chase, his win in the Paddy Power Gold Cup was fraught with danger and drama.
For the vast majority of the race, it looked like those pesky Irish were going to make off with yet another pot of Cheltenham gold.
Mouse Morris’ French Dynamite appeared to have them all beat turning for home, the Fat Lady well and truly clearing her throat as he cleared the second last.
But as they levelled up for the final fence, well-backed 5-1 shot Ga Law flicked on the blues and twos and put his foot down.
He pinged the last and stormed up the hill to win going away – though that doesn’t really tell the full story.
He whacked the second fence and was shuffled back through the field after another mistake at the fourth – it was more PC Plod than Starsky and Hutch early doors.
But he somehow managed to drag himself back into contention and had the race locked up with a stunning late surge.
It gave good guy Jamie Snowden his biggest win as a trainer, with the victory trumping that of Present View in the novice handicap at the 2014 Festival.
And it was a win that pulled at the heartstrings, too.
The six-year-old is owned by The Footie Partnership, a group of five, Cheltenham-mad friends who set up a syndicate in the memory of their late pal Nick Foot.
He died of cancer five years ago aged just 59 and would have been a grandfather for the first time earlier this week.
If Ga Law needed any extra help, maybe he had some from on high as he came from the clouds to win this historic race.
Snowden said: “Winning this race is right up there. We were very lucky to have a Festival winner at an early stage but these big days are what it’s all about.
“We have been on a great run of it and having plenty of winners but obviously every trainer wants to have big Saturday winners and this is a race with a rich history.
“He is owned by a great group of people and the partnership was set up for a chap called ‘Footie’ – Nick Foot who died sadly died of cancer.
“There was originally a group of six of them who always came racing to Cheltenham together and they set up this partnership with the idea of coming here and hopefully winning a big race at Cheltenham in his memory.
“Here it is and it’s all credit to this wonderful team of five guys. It all came together beautifully and no doubt they’ll raise a glass to Nick tonight.”
On this evidence, this won’t be the last big victory Ga Law’s owners can toast.
The horse missed the entire 21-22 season with a minor tendon injury, but ran a hugely encouraging race after a 603-day break in last month’s Old Roan at Aintree.
He will shoot up the weights after this success and Snowden could even be dreaming of a crack at something like the King George on Boxing Day.
Lambourn-based Snowden added: “He’s certainly not the finished article, by any means.
“He’s only a young horse and he made a few jumping errors early on, so hopefully there’s a few things to brush up on and who knows how good he can be.
“He stayed really well and they obviously went pretty hard early on. It took him a while to get into a good jumping rhythm but in fairness it’s only his second run out of novice company.
“It was his first big-field handicap and with that comes the unexposed nature of the horse, but inexperience counts as well.
“He was probably a little further back than we ideally wanted, but once he found his feet he galloped and stayed and stamina has won at the end of the day – so he definitely wants every yard of that trip.
“Maybe we can start to dream of big races – but will enjoy today and then make a plan.”
Tipperary trainer Morris was down but not out after the race, and he will now begin plotting French Dynamite’s route back to Cheltenham in March.
He said: “He just missed out the last a bit and lost his momentum as he just caught the top of it but I’m not making excuses. He was second that is it.
“He is only a pup and he is a huge horse at 17 hands. He will get me out of bed in the morning through the winter.
“Here around Cheltenham they have never won until they are past the post and I’m well used to that now. Hopefully he can go one better on his next visit.”
He might have had a brush with the Law, but Morris, and his Irish counterparts, will be back.
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