Thu, 07 Nov 2019
SEVEN Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson admitted that Champ 'didn't put a foot wrong' in his debut win over fences at Newbury on Thursday.
The seven-year-old, who was Dual Grade 1 novice hurdle winner last term, was making his eagerly anticipated debut over fences in Newbury's first jumps meeting of the season.
Barry Geraghty, who was riding Champ, finished ahead of Dashel Drasher and after the race Henderson was thrilled with the winning start.
"I was a bit nervous with two-six (2m 6f) for first-time because he can be quite keen, but on the other hand giving him plenty of time allowed him to get into a nice rhythm.
"I thought it was all he could last for, but he didn't put a foot wrong," admitted Henderson. "He had a lot of respect for the fences today and that's what I was trying to do.
"We took him away [to Warwick and Chepstow] because it was too easy and we wanted him to see a good fence so he could stand off and respect them a bit more."
The afternoon kicked off with a charity race as the Mark Usher-trained Bird To Love claimed victory, with Isabella Budge on board.
The 3/1 favourite, Zanza, was a winner in the Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) for Minehead trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Sean Houlihan.
West Ilsley trainer Mick Channon had Westbrook Bertie place as second, ahead of Cosmeapolitan who finished third.
In the Class 4 Novices' Hurdle, Nigel Twiston-Davies secured his first victory of the day as Sir Valentine won with Sam Twiston-Davies on board.
Young Lieutenant, trained by Warren Greatrex finished second while Jonjo O'Neill's Kilbrook finished third.
After the win with Champ, it was almost a quick-fire double for Seven Barrows as Floressa was edged out in the Novices' Hurdle Race (Class 2) by Paul Nicholls' Silver Forever.
But Henderson didn't have long to wait for his second victory as Diablo De Rouhet won the Handicap Hurdle Race (Class 2).
The six-year-old was bought for a remarkable €300 by owner David White, who said: "He was bought in Ireland after he failed on two point-to-points, but my wife did a lot of the work on him. He has won dressage competitions and been hunted too."
Henderson added: "We pulled him out of bed earlier this morning so we could bring him back down to hurdles because I hadn't schooled him back down because he has been chasing.
"You wouldn't know he was jumping hurdles because he was so slick and although he is good over fences, he looked like he enjoyed jumping over hurdles."
Nico de Boinville, who was riding Diablo De Rouhet, said: "It was pretty straight forward, we didn't go a great gallop so it was a case of quickening up in the straight, but he seen it out well and made the most out of the mark.
"We got up early and winged him over four hurdles which was great," he added.
In the penultimate race of the afternoon, a photo finish was required to determine the winner with Alan King's Azzerti just sneaking ahead of Chef D'Equipe.
Henderson secured his third win of the day at his local track when Son Of Camas won the National Hunt Flat Race (Class 5).
Ridden by James Bowen, the four-year-old finished ahead of Henderson's second horse Timberman, while Cadzand finished third.
All eyes now turn to the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, with the festival just three weeks away and we'll be bringing you all the latest ahead of the big weekend.
More reaction and pictures from the opening jumps meeting of the season will be available in next week's Newbury Weekly News - out on Thursday.