Harry Skelton and Paul Nicholls – who were crowned champion jockey and trainer on the afternoon – were denied a dream end to the season when Enrilo lost the bet365 Gold Cup in the stewards’ room, with Potterman the beneficiary.
It looked likely to be the perfect finale for both at Sandown as 7-2 favourite Enrilo made a bold bid for home with three to jump.
Enrilo made a bit of a hash of the second-last, giving his pursuers another chance. They included El Presente, Potterman and Kitty’s Light, as Rachael Blackmore’s mount Plan Of Attack began to weaken having travelled well for a long way.
When Skelton – who picked up the trophy for being leading rider for the first time before racing – got a big leap out of Enrilo at the last he looked to have sealed the deal.
However, despite the champion jockey having his whip in his left hand, Enrilo veered badly away from the rail with serious consequences for Kitty’s Light.
Christian Williams’ five-year-old had worked up a real head of steam after the final fence and was making ground rapidly on Enrilo, only to be stopped in his tracks.
To Enrilo’s credit, once straightened he did pick up again to cross the line first, with Alan King’s 12-1 chance Potterman, on the far side, beaten three-quarters of a length and another short head back to Kitty’s Light in third.
As the disqualified horse has to be placed behind the one it interferes with, Potterman was awarded the race with Kitty’s Light second and Enrilo only third.
King said: “The plan was to give him a prep, but we ran out of time. I haven’t seen the head on, but my view was that if it was in France we would definitely get it.
“I know it’s not the same here, but I’m certainly not going to complain.”
He added: “I’ve not seen James (Potter, joint-owner) since the race and a few weeks ago he did mention possibly putting him in over in America for the American Grand National, which would be an option.
“That was only mentioned a month ago in passing and I’ve not thought any more about it. He is very much a top of the ground horse. I’ve had a runner in America before, Penny Bridge ran in the Virginia Gold Cup in my first year of training. We will just enjoy today, though.”
Nicholls will consider his options, having felt sure Enrilo would keep the race.
He said: “Mine is a big, green horse and when they came to him away he went.
“He made a huge mistake two out, but then ran a bit green. I thought Harry rode a brilliant race and I’d told him not to get there too soon. He certainly wasn’t tired at the end, it was just through his greenness (that he wandered).
“It’s a bit of a strange result really, but it’s just frustrating because the best horse in the race by miles didn’t win the race. He was unlucky that he made a huge mistake at the second-last and still got back up and just like at Newbury he just ran a bit green and a bit open.
“He did cause him some interference, but would that horse he interfered with have definitely won the race?
“I don’t know. I thought straight away after watching on my phone that he’d keep it – even though he’s caused interference – and that’s what I said to the owners.
“I’ve just said to the owners we’ll look at it and see if it’s worth an appeal. We’ll look at the Ladbrokes Trophy next season.”
Williams, meanwhile, said: “I’m proud of my horse. He was the best horse in the race and got a right bang from Enrilo.
“He should have won. I think my horse will strengthen up over the summer and I might aim him at the Ladbrokes Trophy.
“It is tough to take, but I’m very proud of the horse and Jack (Tudor, jockey). We will try to put the disappointment behind us. Cap Du Nord ran an absolute blinder and Nick (Scholfield) gave him a great ride so the future is looking good.
“It was great to be in a finish with Paul Nicholls and Alan King, who are my two biggest supporters. It looks like he could be a Ladbrokes Trophy horse. He seems like he is good over extreme distances. I do think his jumping is getting sharper. We will see what he does over the summer, but it doesn’t look like we have got to the bottom of him.
“He could be a Grand National horse the way the fences are now.”