Cockney Sparrow was a cheeky winner of the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr
Last Updated: 13/04/14 11:07am
Cockney Sparrow (left) is about to swoop to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle
Cockney Sparrow (12/1) won the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr with My Tent Or Yours only third.
Dean Pratt, a 7lb claimer, gave John Quinn's five-year-old a cool ride, playing his hand last of all and he was able to sit up in the stirrups and give his mare a pat down the neck as she pulled clear of her toiling rivals in the final yards.
Connections of My Tent Or Yours had set a fascinating puzzle by returning this year's Champion Hurdle runner-up to handicap company but, once again, Nicky Henderson's seven-year-old refused to settle despite the application of a hood.
AP McCoy allowed My Tent Or Yours to take closer order as Barizan and Ifandbutwhynot took the field along and he was in front soon enough in the straight as the leaders began to backpedal.
Swing Bowler came through to challenge as did last year's winner Court Minstrel - another given a patient ride - and there was little to choose between the three at the final flight only for Cockney Sparrow to breeze through after the final obstacle.
The winning margin was two and a quarter lengths with Court Minstrel edging out the top-weight by a length and three quarters with Swing Bowler weakening into fourth.
"Dean knows her very well and I don't think she likes being crowded," Quinn said. "He was very clever on her. When he switched her wide it looked like she might be placed, but then she quickened up again.
"She won here on the Flat and she's got tactical Flat speed. We were going to keep her for the Grade One mares' race at Punchestown, but it was six weeks away after Cheltenham so we came here first. She's a good ground animal so I'll keep her going until the autumn."
Pratt said: "It worked out well enough. I missed the middle one down the back and I lost my position a bit so I gave her every chance turning in and I had my eye on My Tent Or Yours and I could see AP (McCoy) pushing going to the last.
"I knew this filly would stay and she galloped all the way to the line. She was only five lengths behind Quevega at Cheltenham and she would have been third if she had not been hampered.
"I ride her out every day at home. She gave me one of my biggest days last year when I rode her at Aintree to win the boys' race. I never thought I'd get the chance to get back on her, as she'd be running in Listed races and I wouldn't be able to lose my claim.
"It was great to get back on her today so it's huge thanks to the boss and Mr Gaffney (owner) for putting me back on her."
Nicky Henderson, trainer of My Tent Or Yours, conceded the addition of a hood had not worked on his free-going seven-year-old, commenting: "It was disappointing. The hood didn't seem to help him and we'll give him a break now."