Mark Walsh steps in to win Coral Cup on Bleu Berry

Bleu Berry and Mark Walsh win the Coral Cup at Cheltenham

Bleu Berry and Mark Walsh win the Coral Cup at Cheltenham

Mark Walsh was a late replacement on Bleu Berry but it made no difference as he produced his mount perfectly to beat Topofthegame in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.

The 20-1 winner was supposed to be ridden by Paul Townend, but he switched to one of the favourites, Max Dynamite, following Ruby Walsh’s injury in the preceding RSA Insurance Chase.

Walsh came from the rear of the field to deny Sam Twiston-Davies on the giant Topofthegame in the final few strides.

Gordon Elliott’s Barra was another who made late headway to claim third, while William Henry, sent off the 8-1 joint-favourite along with Max Dynamite, was fourth in the hands of teenager James Bowen.

Walsh, who was claiming a first Cheltenham winner, said: “You don’t want to ride winner like that and Paul would have rode him before getting on Ruby’s horse, but I’m just delighted to be called up by Willie to ride him.

“They went a nice gallop and everything went to plan.

“We got the splits, he winged the last, and had enough petrol in the tank.”

Successful owner Luke McMahon said: “Fair play to Mark Walsh, he gave him a brilliant ride.

“We’ve always liked him (Bleu Berry) but he just had a few interruptions at the start of the season.

“It’s fantastic.”

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