Best Mate and friends from East Anglia
HURTLING down the finishing straight on his way making history, triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate had the support of racing fans the world over – and the backing of an East Anglian company.
HURTLING down the finishing straight on his way making history, triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate had the support of racing fans the world over - and the backing of an East Anglian company.
For the nine-year-old gelding, claimed his third straight Gold Cup victory at Cheltenham yesterday, and is sponsored by furniture manufacturers Alstons.
The horse rode into the history books and joined an elite list of horses to have won the trophy three times in a row. The last horse to do it was the legendary Arkle who won his third Gold Cup in 1966.
Alstons, which employs 450 people at factories in Ipswich and Colchester, has sponsored the historic horse for the last four years.
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Managing director John Alston and Sales Director John Broad made the trip to Cheltenham to cheer on Best Mate in his bid for the prestigious triple.
Mr Alston said last night: "Best Mate's owner, Jim Lewis, is involved in the furniture trade and due to our business relationship he asked me if we would like to sponsor his stable.
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"We've followed Best Mate since day one when he was bought in an Irish point-to-point and we know everyone involved with him, so it means a tremendous amount to us.
"It's nice for an East Anglian company to be associated with a horse like this - it's been a huge windfall for us in terms of exposure."
Mr Alston added: "Watching the race was incredible - it was better than a cup final. Best Mate is one in a million and he's up there with the all-time greats.
"Who knows - next year he could win it again. This means a tremendous amount to us and I'm really proud of everybody who's put all the hard work in, and, of course, the horse."
But, despite Best Mate's pre-race status as a red-hot favourite with the bookies, Mr Alston said he forced himself not to have a flutter.
"I'm not lucky when it comes to betting and I didn't want to jinx the horse," he added. "We are all very superstitious about it.
"We wear the same clothes as we had the year before and stand in the same place to watch the race - but it's all worth it when Best Mate wins."
Champagne corks were also popping back at the company's Ipswich factory, as workers toasted the historic victory.
A spokesman for Alstons said: "There were quite a few of us watching the race here - and I'm sure the rest of the company heard when Best Mate won.
"A lot of people had a little flutter as well. There's been a few pounds won on it."