By Justin Palmer
CHELTENHAM, England (Reuters) - Nico de Boinville, a professional jockey for barely a year, landed the most prestigious race of the English jump-racing season when Coneygree led from pillar to post to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
De Boinville's pass-me-if-you-can tactics in his first Gold Cup ride paid off as the lightly-raced 7-1 chance reveled in the rain-softened ground, digging deep to fend off the fast-finishing Djakadam (10-1) and Road to Riches (8-1).
Coneygree had a length and a half in hand at the line at the end of two stamina-sapping circuits of the Prestbury Park course, becoming the first novice chaser to win the race since 1974. A horse is deemed a novice if it has not won over hurdles or fences before the start of the season.
"Words can't describe it without using expletives. Unbelievable," De Boinville said.
"I always knew I had enough left (to hang on)."
Winning trainer Mark Bradstock, who has a small stable of around 20 horses, added: "He's a fantastic horse. We've done it before in smaller races and we will still keep doing it, but it's fantastic to do it on the big stage.
"The forecast was so up and down, the rain was meant to be coming on Tuesday, but luckily we made the right decision. It's brilliant."
Retiring champion jockey Tony McCoy was unplaced on Carlingford Lough, his last Gold Cup before quitting riding next month.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)