Tent takes Betfair Hurdle
Updated: Saturday, 09 Feb 2013 18:06
A week laced with sadness for owner JP McManus, trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Tony McCoy culminated with a fortifying boost for each of them as My Tent Or Yours took Newbury's Betfair Hurdle with an ease rarely witnessed in a major handicap.
The team had been dealt crushing news on Monday when their Champion Hurdle hope Darlan, by coincidence a faller when looking the winner of this race 12 months ago, died at the final flight of a trial at Doncaster.
So impressive was the performance of the novice My Tent Or Yours, who carried the hopes of many as 5-1 favourite as he cruised five lengths clear of Cotton Mill, that speculation abounded that he could be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle itself.
The six-year-old, purchased by McManus for this season on the suggestion of his retained jockey McCoy, only had three starts in minor novice hurdles to his name but could be picked out as the obvious winner from some way out as he crept along the inside rail.
"He could quicken up in that ground, but I've always thought the better the ground, the better he would be" - Trainer Nicky Henderson on exciting novice My Tent Or Yours
"It was a funny race. You expect a furious gallop in these competitive handicaps and I was amazed how they went," said Henderson.
"He could quicken up in that ground, but I've always thought the better the ground, the better he would be."
Henderson was asked about the prospects of My Tent Or Yours heading for the Champion, and he said: "I hadn't thought about it. He's in the Supreme and that would be the obvious one. I know JP has Jezki in the race, but it all comes down to JP."
McManus' fine racemare Like-A-Butterfly succumbed to colic this week and he had also received news of his promising novice Ned Buntline being ruled out for the season.
"To lose one as we did - Darlan should have won this last year - but to find another one who looks as if he has the potential to go to the top is a big, big boost," said Henderson.
"It has been a difficult week and we've had to rally the troops and pick ourselves up.
"We've been amazed by the support that we've had. Nobody loves his horses more than JP, and AP was absolutely shattered.
"We all hoped Darlan was a Champion Hurdle horse. To find another that looks capable of going to the top table, there's a bit of justice in it."
McCoy, who had driven from Warwick, where he had ridden a winner earlier in the afternoon, said: "To win a handicap off 149 is a good performance. He's a good horse, I thought that the first day I sat on him. I schooled him and I said to Nicky that there's only one thing wrong with this horse - he's in the wrong colours.
"I recommended to the boss to get him. I've never had a horse pull as hard as him the first day I rode him.
"It has been a tough week for (McManus). He loves nothing more than bringing them back home and the one thing you are told is you don't abuse them. He lost Darlan and Like-A-Butterfly, who was a family pet, so this is good for them."
And with his thoughts on a Champion bid, the Ulsterman said: "I'm just about intelligent enough to ride these horses, let alone suggest to them what they do."
Cotton Mill fell just short of delivering John Ferguson his biggest jumping success on his first start of the campaign, and jockey Jack Quinlan said: "It was a great experience and he jumped fantastically.
“He'll come on for that and hopefully go on to Cheltenham."