MY TENT Or Yours delivered a seasonal debut brimming with promise as he crushed his rivals in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on Saturday, the first Grade 1 hurdle race of the British jumps season.
My Tent Or Yours was sent off 8-11 favourite, but the sixyear- old’s task was not a straightforward one. His trainer Nicky Henderson, the champion trainer, has suffered a handful of short-priced reversals so far this season and in Melodic Rendezvous the favourite faced a greatly progressive talent bidding to complete a five-timer.
Yet in the end the victory was professional. Looking fit and powerful for his first race of the season, My Tent Or Yours stalked Melodic Rendezvous in mid-division and moved effortlessly into contention approaching three from home. Melodic Rendezvous, by contrast, was one of the first to come under pressure and soon lost his chance.
Grumeti and Cockney Sparrow challenged My Tent Or Yours but Henderson’s horse, masterfully handled by Tony McCoy, was bowling along with a full tank and when the champ finally let his mount stride clear after the last it was almost disappointing they went just the three lengths clear.
“It was a good return but to be honest I would have been disappointed if he couldn’t have won like that if he’s going to be a Champion Hurdle horse,” said McCoy.
“Some of the bookmakers have cut him to favourite, which I think is an overreaction.
He needs to improve, to progress, if he’s going to beat a horse like Hurricane Fly who has won 17 Grade 1s.”
The John Quinn-trained Cockney Sparrow ran a massive race upped from Listed to Grade 1 level. She finished second for the Malton handler, two and a half lengths ahead of Grumeti.
The champion jockey was also at Sedgefield on Tuesday and was, yet again, rewarded with a winner as he teamed up with Alan Swinbank to land the bumper with Fly Home Harry, a horse who should make a smart hurdler in due course.
Another fantastic weekend of quality jump racing with Sandown, Aintree and Wetherby stage really deep cards.
The Tingle Creek Chase is the highlight at Sandown while at Aintree there are two races over the famous Grand National Fences which is sure to be fast and furious.
Sprinter Sacre’s longplanned Sandown participation of the devastating Queen Mother Champion Chase winner was placed in significant doubt on Monday, when trainer Nicky Henderson revealed the Grade 1 showpiece’s 1-12 favourite had returned an unsatisfactory tracheal wash.
Although Henderson said he could still run, his participation hinges on results from further tests to be taken on Thursday, when 48-hour declarations are made for a contest for which the champion trainer is set to be represented by Captain Conan if Sprinter Sacre is kept at home.
Mould said: “The horse seems fine and looks in tip-top condition but we can’t take any chances and this is something we cannot ignore.
“On the one hand it’s frustrating, but we also would never want to run him unless he was 100 per cent. They’ll do another tracheal wash on Thursday and I don’t expect to hear anything until then.”
Henderson confirmed last season’s 15-length Tingle Creek winner had continued with his normal exercise routine on Tuesday and Wednesday.
He said: “We want to run Sprinter Sacre but will take no chances.
“My intention had been to run Captain Conan in the Stewart family’s race at Cheltenham next Saturday but if Sprinter cannot run in the Tingle Creek we’ll almost certainly bring Captain Conan forward a week and take him to Sandown.”
At Wetherby, the seven race card gets under way at 12.10pm and some competitive entries should make for a good day of sport.
Go Racing In Yorkshire have announced their inaugural Winter Festival over the Christmas period.
The four day long jump racing festival starts with a twoday meeting at Wetherby on Boxing Day and Friday, December 27, followed by Catterick on Saturday, December 28, before concluding at Doncaster on the Sunday.
All four days promise to be a jumps racing spectacular brought together under the Go Racing in Yorkshire Winter Festival banner and racegoers can get their picture taken in a full size Go Racing in Yorkshire snow globe, which will be a feature attraction throughout the festival.
The Winter Festival Leading Trainer and Leading Jockey awards have been sponsored by Raithwaite Estate located close to Whitby on the Yorkshire Coast.
John Sexton, Chairman of Go Racing in Yorkshire said: “The Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival has been one of racing’s success stories over the last few years and I am confident that the new Go Racing In Yorkshire Winter Festival will prove just as popular.
“Yorkshire has a great history of National Hunt racing and with four superb days at Wetherby, Catterick and Doncaster at a time when many people can attend, it should be the perfect complement to the Summer Festival.”
Here is hoping we don’t get a white Christmas.