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Cheltenham joy for Harry Whittington as Simply The Betts hands trainer first-ever Festival winner

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The Hill Barn stables will be celebrating after their first-ever winner at the Cheltenham Festival

FOR a trainer, having a winner in any race at any track is a special feeling, but to have one during the Cheltenham Festival is a moment you'll never forget.

And it'll be a day that Harry Whittington will never forget as he recorded his first-ever Festival winner as Simply The Betts won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate on Thursday (today) afternoon.

Jockey Gavin Sheehan, who was in the saddle, had to battle it out with Happy Diva in second and came out on top to land Whittington his first success at the Festival - something he dreamed of doing before it all started.

Whittington said: "It's about everyone else. Andrew, Kate and George Brooks have put so much into it and I am so thrilled for them.

"We have had five goes this week and we have got closer each time so it is fantastic. They have given everything this winter and even Laura Collett, who has done an amazing job with the jumping. It's a great team effort and I am so proud of everyone."

Andrew & Kate Brooks, who are the owners of the seven-year-old, were obviously over the moon as a result of the win.

Speaking after the race, Mr Brooks: "It's named after a good friend of ours, who was a great colleague of ours and died of cancer three years ago so it'll mean the world to his parents and the office.

"Thanks to Harry and to Gavin. It's quite emotional because it's an unbelievable feeling," he added.

Earlier in the day, Whittington thought the chance had passed his team by as Saint Calvados was edged out by the Willie Mullins-trained Min in the Ryanair Chase.

Speaking after that race, the trainer said: "I am so proud, you can feel the energy coming off of him - it was unbelievable. We wanted to bring the house down, I am gutted, but so proud of him because he has run a stormer.

"He will go up in trip next year and although I am gutted, I am thrilled for the horse because he has given everything and all the team at home have done a great job to get him here in pristine condition."

We'll be back at Cheltenham Racecourse tomorrow with our LIVE BLOG as the final day of the Cheltenham Festival takes place, with the Gold Cup race taking place.

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