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Henderson gains Aintree consolation with Sir Gino triumph

3 minute read

Nicky Henderson enjoyed a return to the Grade 1 winners’ enclosure when Sir Gino strutted his stuff in the Boodles Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree.

SIR GINO (centre, yellow/black cap) winning the 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England.
SIR GINO (centre, yellow/black cap) winning the 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Nicky Henderson-trained four-year-old made it a perfect four from four when landing the Boodles Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree.

An impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham in January, Henderson's French-bred subsequently missed the Festival last month with the stable under a cloud entering the meeting.

The 11/10 market leader failed to jump with fluency throughout the two-mile one-furlong contest but proved too strong in the closing stages for the well-backed 7/4 chance Kargese, who ran keenly on her first outing since finishing runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

Nico De Boinville found himself tracking both the front-running Kalif Du Berlais and Kargese for much of the four-year-old hurdle, but the pair kicked clear with a good jump at the final flight before going on for a comfortable three-and-a-quarter length success.

Kargese finished back in second with Kalif Du Berlais eventually well-held in third.

Henderson, who endured a torrid time at the Cheltenham Festival, said: "It was a messy sort of a race, and they were playing cat and mouse a bit, but on the other hand it was job done.

"He galloped all the way to the line, and he was a bit untidy up the straight. I was watching the speed thing, and it was varying dramatically as it was slowed down and then quickened up. Paul's (Townend ) horse (Kargese) was pulling quite hard, and we got a bit revved up, but he has done what he has had to do.

"He is very, very good, and hopefully he has got a long way to go. Funnily enough, I was confident he would pick the filly up. I just got the feeling he was coming there.

"It would have to be the plan to stick to hurdles. We are not going to be discussing that now. I know where one person is meant to be going."

The son of It's Gino looks to have the world at his feet after making it four from four on Thursday afternoon but a date with Henderson's stable star Constitution Hill, who missed his defence of the Champion Hurdle crown last month, could await. "Constitution Hill is a two-mile hurdler, and this is what he is, so they might get to know each other," added Henderson.

"All of those years I've been training there have been plenty of downs before the ups and we all know what it is like. Every trainer in the world knows what it is like as they have been through these sorts of things. Unfortunately, ours became rather more public than necessary because we bumped into Cheltenham. You have got him sat at home watching the Triumph Hurdle thinking arrgh.

"Of course, things go through your mind, and we knew what we were walking into. There is a long way to go as one swallow doesn't make a summer as they say.

"It is a relief to everybody as they have been brilliant, and I'm talking about the people as much as the horses. It has been a long old winter of slaving away in foul weather to get them ready for Cheltenham if you like, and when it doesn't happen it is horrible for all of us. They have worn this battle well with all of us and thank you goes to them.

"The good thing about bad days is you hope there is going to be some light at the end of the tunnel."

Paddy Power makes the winner a 4/1 chance from 7/1 for the Arkle Chase next season, with the same firm going 16/1 for the Champion Hurdle.

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