Harrington strikes Gold with Sizing John

Pirate IRWIN
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Jockey Robbie Power (C) riding Sizing John wins the Gold Cup on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival horse racing meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, south-west England, on March 17, 2017

Irish trainer Jessica Harrington won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with her first ever runner Sizing John on Friday to become the most successful female trainer in Festival history.

Sizing John, given a superb ride by Robbie Power, who had convinced Harrington he could stay further than two miles, seized the initiative at the penultimate fence to come home clear of Minella Rocco with long-time pacesetter Native River third.

For 70-year-old Harrington it was her 10th Festival winner and added Gold Cup success to the Champion Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase while for Power it comes 10 years after he won the Grand National on Silver Birch.

Harrington, who lost her husband Johnny to cancer in 2014, said to win the Gold Cup was on a different level to the other great successes.

"This is the jewel in the crown, absolutely amazing," said Harrington who joins two-time winner Jenny Pitman and triple winning trainer Henrietta Knight in the Gold Cup hall of fame.

"The Gold Cup is the race I've listened to at first -- being of that pre-TV racing generation -- and then watching it since I was so high.

"Absolutely amazing how he jumped. This is absolutely fantastic, unreal unreal."

For Power the victory meant more than when he won the Grand National as a young jockey.

"This is even more special. I was 25 when I won the National and took it for granted I would win everything after that..now I'm 35, reality has long since bitten on my complacency.

"I celebrated hard after the finish because I've been through a lot this season with eye trouble, broken cheekbone and back problems. You never know what's round the corner in this game."

Favourite Djakadam hit the second last hard -- in fact he broke part of the obstacle -- when leading and ran out of steam.

Djakadam's jockey Ruby Walsh, who rode four winners on Thursday, said it hadn't cost him the race just the same spot he had filled in the previous two editions.

"The mistake cost me second place but I don't believe I would have done better than that," said the 37-year-old Irishman.

The punters favourite, 11-year-old Cue Card, never looked like becoming the oldest winner of the race in 48 years and came to grief at the third last -- the same fence he fell at in the 2016 edition.

There was early disappointment too for Lizzie Kelly -- only the second female jockey to ride in the Gold Cup after Linda Sheedy in 1984 -- as she was unseated by Tea For Two at the second fence, slamming her fist into the turf in frustration.