Grand day for Henderson
Nicky Henderson had a Saturday to remember with four big race victories at Punchestown and Haydock.
Last Updated: 07/05/11 6:14pm
Nicky Henderson had a Saturday to remember with three big race victories at Punchestown and Haydock.
Bellvano set the ball rolling when getting the better of Montan in a thrilling duel for the Madra Irish Dog Food Novice Chase at Punchestown.
Sent off the 7-2 favourite, JP McManus' seven-year-old (who had been pulled up in the County Hurdle last time) travelled sweetly for Barry Geraghty and prevailed by a length and three-quarters.
Henderson said: "He is still a novice for next season in England and has still a fair bit to learn. He went nicely to sleep today as he can be a bit keen.
"We will go quietly with him and not go for anything fancy yet. He is a top-of-the-ground horse and Barry said that ground was as slow as he would need it."
Swinton Record Breaker
Back in England Eradicate made history when becoming the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the totescoop6 Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock.
Eradicate was carrying just 10-1 when winning this traditionally competitive handicap 12 months ago but headed the weights this time around.
Promising young conditional Jeremiah McGrath claimed 7lbs from the seven year old's burden and always had the Montjeu gelding well placed before kicking clear to record a 13 length success to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Swinton.
McGrath said: "When Dave Roberts (agent) rang to tell me I was riding him I was very surprised because I didn't think he'd have top weight but one above him came out. The boss was keen to use my 7lb claim.
"I had a run around the track this morning and was a bit worried the ground was a bit soft for him but it was beautiful.
"When I was running I noticed there was a good strip of ground up the rails so I went for that.
"He used his turn of foot to great effect and winged the last three hurdles.
"The boss told me to be handy. I followed the champ (Tony McCoy) early on and that is never a bad place to be.
"He jumped like a bunny today and ran away from them in the end. Good ground is the key.
"It's brilliant to win a race like this," he told Racing UK.
There was some disappointment for Henderson at Haydock though as the Lambourn handler was also represented by the well-backed favourite Remember Now who trailed home in last.
Grand Day Out
The day got even better for Henderson when Grandouet gained a deserved Grade One success in the AES Champion 4yo Hurdle back at Punchestown.
Grandouet had faded to finish third in the Triumph Hurdle before being brought down at Aintree when holding every chance on his last two outings.
However, there were no such problems here for Geraghty's mount who comfortably reversed Cheltenham Festival form with beaten favourite Unaccompanied, who never appeared to be travelling as easily as she had in March.
Geraghty was always close to the pace set by fellow British raiders Pullyourfingerout and Kumbeshwar and moved to their outside travelling strongly on the home turn.
However, Willie Mullins' French import Twinlight was also moving easily on his outside but Twinlight weakened tamely when Geraghty pushed the button and Ruby Walsh's mount faded into third with Alan King's Kumbeshwar taking the runner-up spot.
Grandouet was cut to 16-1 from 25s for the 2012 Champion Hurdle by Victor Chandler but Sky Bet were not as impressed, offering 20-1 from 33s.
Henderson and Geraghty were not done with there as the pair combined half an hour later to land the Tulfarris Hotel And Golf Resort Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase.
There was a nailbiting finish to the three mile and a furlong contest with a desperate mistake at the last by Shakalakaboomboom allowing the well backed Beautiful Sound another bite of the cherry.
Geraghty managed to keep the partnership intact though and his mount had enough in hand to keep the challenge of Gordon Elliott's charge at bay by a short-head to cap a fabulous day for the Lambourn handler.
Henderson said of his winner: "He ran a good race in the Topham Chase at Aintree and he was a brave horse to come back from eating grass at the last fence. But he'll be going out to eat grass next week, without Barry on his back!"