Happy Diva finally enjoyed her day in the sun with a thrilling success in the £160,000 G3 BetVictor Gold Cup under 3lb claimer Richard Patrick.
A 14/1 chance, Happy Diva was always travelling well in the two and a half-mile event and was vying for the lead at the penultimate fence, at which 4/1 favourite Slate House, who was travelling very well, fell.
From there, Happy Diva, an eight-year-old daughter of King’s Theatre, kept on tremendously under pressure to fend off the persistent Brelan D’As (20/1) for Paul Nicholls and Barry Geraghty to score by a neck.
Happy Diva took her career earnings over the £250,000 mark this afternoon and a delighted Lee paid tribute to her stable star.
She said: “What a brilliant horse Happy Diva is. She has been the bridesmaid once too often, but she is a Listed winner over fences.
“Happy Diva beat Magic Of Light last term who went on to finish second in the Grand National, so the form was there!
“She had always been on the coat tails and it’s great to win today.
“It was a great ride by Richard. We came into the race with a gameplan and thankfully it has worked. We had a plan to be positioned by the rail and she travelled really well throughout and jumped beautifully.
“Happy Diva is a tough and gutsy mare and her class shone through.
“It is great to have the Roseff family [winning owners] here today. They have been with the yard since my father [Richard] started over 30 years ago.
“It is great for them all to be here today. They are fantastic owners as if we have a quiet day, they always say there is another one. If we have a great day, boy do they celebrate.
“I think it’s five years since dad bought her in Ireland – mum and dad went together and bought her as a store – and I am absolutely over the moon.”
DIVA GIVES PATRICK A ‘MAGICAL‘ WIN
Conditional jockey Richard Patrick scored the biggest victory of his career in the £160,000 G3 BetVictor Gold Cup on the Kerry Lee-trained Happy Diva.
The eight-year-old mare, a daughter of King’s Theatre, beat the fast-finishing Brelan D’As by a neck at odds of 14/1. She was the first mare to take the race since Lady Cricket in 2000.
Patrick said: “It’s a dream, I couldn’t have had a better run round. She was very, very unlucky in this race last year. She was travelling like a dream and I couldn’t have been happier with where I was, but a bad crash happened in front of us and we got brought down [four fences from home]. She has got what she deserved today.
“She is unreal to ride because she travels so well and jumps brilliantly. You can sit wherever you want to – she is almost going too well a lot of the time, but she is epic. She is the best horse that I have ever ridden. I think it is probably the 20th time I have ridden her, something like that, and we’ve had six wins. She’s brought me to all the big days and she always runs her heart out without winning.
“The horses have been a bit hit and miss, but they have still been running OK. We have quite a nice bunch, a few less horses this year, but a massive thank you to the owners for keeping me on her and Kerry for keeping the faith. It’s magical.
“Kerry and I have built up a great partnership. Happy Diva is probably the best one but we’ve got some nice horses coming through; you just need a bit of luck – especially in these big handicaps – and last year we had none, so it’s nice to have it this year.
“This is massive for me, especially just coming towards the end of my claim. I think I’ve got 13 [wins] left now [until he loses his claim] and you need to be being seen on these big days. It just makes you more hungry and want more.”