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Curling and King combine for first Festival success in Kim Muir

Sam Curling and Pa King have been a leading combination in the point-to-point fields in recent seasons and they translated that to the track when the pair combined to record their initial Cheltenham Festival victories with Angels Dawn in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup. 
Sent off as a 10/1 shot having been quite the eye-catcher when exiting two-out in the Grand National Trial, the two time regional champion produced her full of confidence to jump the final fence upsides the favourite Stumpton and Barry O’Neill.
However that pair proved to be a persistent rival as they fought out a titanic tussle up the famous hill before Angels Dawn was awarded the verdict by a neck.
Pa King: “Unbelievable! I thought I would never feel it. That’s my first Festival ride. I’ve won at the October meeting, but I have never ridden here. 
“Sam has played a big part in my career recently and I’m delighted for him. I was probably nearly at the end of riding because things had got very quiet for me, and I joined Sam and since then things have started up again. 
“I’ve known him a long time - he’s married to my first cousin, but I knew him before that. He’s not far away from me; I hadn’t really been doing much, and I rang him one day and he said, look, come in, and if it works there’ll be a chance for you.
“He told me just to jump off in the first half and get a nice position. The mistake she made was my fault - he told me not to throw her at her fences and I did - but he had her well-prepared for today. 
“I knew from a long way out she was going very well. I switched her wide four out and she got travelling a bit too much - I wasn’t supposed to be in front before the last, but all’s well that ends well. He had her spot-on for today. We did think she had a big chance today. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Curling echoed that sentiment as he said: “It was brilliant. She was unlucky the last day in the race at Punchestown. She has always promised a lot and it is unbelievable for a small team like ours. 
“We only have six horses for the track I’d say as we are nearly all point-to-pointers. We buy and sell a lot of horses and we sold Marine Nationale as that is our game. Alfie (Sweetnam, owner) could have sold her a few times along the way, but he didn’t and he kept the faith. She jumps well and she loves that bit of extra distance. Him (Pa King) and Derek O’Connor ride all the point-to-pointers and I’m delighted for him to get a big winner. 
“We didn’t know which way it was going to go but she is tough. You get as big of a buzz watching the horses go on and win for someone else. Once the rain came I was very confident. If she had won the last day she would have gone up in the weights but she didn’t. It looks that way now (that the last race was a blessing in disguise). 
“She is in the Irish Grand National but I would say she wouldn’t get into that, but I’ve not looked much passed today. She could be one for the Grand National in the future as she will race on.”


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