Nicholls praises Pacha Du Polder and his novice jockey

Pacha Du Polder won back-to-back runnings of the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase and gave Harriet Tucker, 22, a first taste of Festival success on only her second ride under Rules. 

No less remarkably she managed to win despite her shoulder partly dislocating in the home straight. Pacha Du Polder needed little assistance however, and followed up last year's win under Bryony Frost. He was trainer Paul Nicholls only win at the 2017 Festival and he became the first this week for the Ditcheat trainer. 

Pacha Du Polder (25/1) beat runner-up Top Wood (50/1) by a neck, with Barel Of Laughs (14/1) and Cousin Pete (66/1) dead-heating for third, a further three and a quarter lengths in arrears. 

Nicholls said: "I get a lot of stick for running horses in hunters' chases, but it's brilliant for people like Harriet, Bryony last year, Victoria Pendleton [who was fifth on Pacha Du Polder in this race in 2016] and Rilly Goschen [who won on the Nicholls-trained Earthmover]. It's a life-changing experience for them, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of Harriet and the horse. 

"She's worked for us for two years, always wanted to ride in races, so we brought her along quietly and she's done really well. We gave her a winner in a point-to-point on Sunday to give her a bit of confidence and we talked her through the race and just said, 'Take your time'. He's been hard to get right this year, but he had come back to himself of late, and at the top of the hill I knew he had a chance because he does stay. 

"We've struggled to find a winner all week with the ground and horses who weren't just good enough, but it's great to have a winner here in any race. 

"He's an amazing horse and so good for the team. He needed the run and came on a ton for it at Doncaster." 

Tucker, from Frome in Somerset, joined Nicholls as a groom two years ago, and has been getting experience this season while riding on the point-to-point circuit, principally for trainer Rose Loxton, who also works for Nicholls. 

The winning rider said: "It's like a dream - I cannot believe it. It really is a shock. Coming here this morning I thought it would be amazing to come in the first 10. I just won the Foxhunter! Walking out the weighing room I thought, 'God, I'm riding in the Foxhunter, this is mad'. To win it is amazing. 

"I tried to get on the inner and keep a straight line - five out I thought 'Gee, I'm still going okay', but a loose horse was bothering me and I tried going wide of it and then ducking back in. Going to the bottom of the hill I thought, 'No way, there's more to come', and at the second-last there was even more! He just kept going and finding more. 

"I started riding in points when I was 18, trained my own pointer last year while working at Paul's, and this year I've been riding for Rose. I've had five rides pointing this year and they've all won, so I'm having an amazing season. 

"My shoulder half dislocates when I lift it too high, and coming to the second-last it did that and I had to push it back in. After that I couldn't slap him down the shoulder and had to just keep pushing and hoping no one would get past me. 

"I have wanted an operation on the shoulder, and now they might give me one."

4.10pm St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup 

1 PACHA DU POLDER (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 11-12-00 Miss Harriet Tucker 25/1

2 TOP WOOD (J Weatherby) Miss Kelly Morgan 11-12-00 Mr Samuel Davies-Thomas 50/1

=3 BAREL OF LAUGHS (Trish Andrews) Philip Rowley 12-12-00 Mr Alex Edwards 14/1

=3 COUSIN PETE (Scilla Phillips) Mrs Elizabeth Brown 10-12-00 Mr Nick Phillips 66/1 

4/1 fav Burning Ambition (8th) 

Distances: nk, 3¼, dh 

Tote   Win: £27.00   Places: £6.40, £20.50, £5.30, £2.70 Exacta: £2,799.10 

Paul Nicholls - 42nd winner at The Festival 

Miss Harriet Tucker - 1st winner at The Festival