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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Four horses who were unfortunate to be defeated

Might Bite (left) is helped by the loose horse as he fights back to beat Whisper
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Charbel fell, Arkle

A debate that looks like it could rage on for months, and Kim Bailey will probably be sick of being reminded about the race come next March. 

Would he have won? That is a question that divides opinion, but there is no doubt Charbel was unlucky as he had managed to get hot favourite Altior out of his comfort zone.

Leading before the second-last, a fall robbed connections and the crowds of what could have been a grandstand finish. Hopefully a rematch will occur at Cheltenham or elsewhere.

Bailey's verdict? "I feel convinced he would have won."  

Kim Bailey pictured with the promising Charbel

My Tent Or Yours 2nd, Champion Hurdle

You would struggle to find a horse who deserves a win at the festival more than My Tent Or Yours. Rewind to 2014 and he finished second to Jezki in the Champion Hurdle.

Then injury intervened and My Tent Or Yours was off the track until 2016. Returning to Cheltenham in the Champion Hurdle again, he ran a mighty race to only be beaten by Annie Power, a hell of a run considering he had been off for nearly two years.

So, in one of the most open Champion Hurdles in recent years, could this be third time lucky for My Tent Or Yours? Sadly not.

Once again he beat everybody, bar stablemate Buveur D'Air, who was only in the race because trainer Nicky Henderson had decided to abort a novice chase campaign.

Henderson recognised the price he had to pay for the one-two, as he said: "You feel sorry for My Tent Or Yours. That's three Champion Hurdles he´s been second in; what more can you say about him?"

Whisper 2nd, RSA

Staying straight and true so nearly paid off, as Whisper came within a nostril of a first Grade 1 over fences.

Turning in, victory looked improbable as stablemate and favourite Might Bite had moved serenely clear, but then his mercurial nature offered up the chance of an unlikely win.

Might Bite decided to take a big detour towards the stands' rail, and was also paddling, but ultimately he was playing possum, waiting until Russell and Whisper nosed ahead before rallying and getting back up.

Whisper's ceiling of ability is in all likelihood not as high as the quirky Might Bite, but he does deserve compensation somewhere.

Pendra 2nd, Kim Muir

Top weight in a Cheltenham Festival handicap is not a death knell, but it does make life tough, and when you factor in a first start for nearly a year, then Pendra's gallant effort earns him a place in this line-up.

Midfield in the Grand National, Pendra had been off for all of the 2016-17 season, but had gone clear under Derek O'Connor after the last.

However, the uphill finish has claimed many victims, and Pendra was unable to keep going right to the end, getting collared in the final strides by 40-1 chance Domesday Book.

Undoubtedly talented, Pendra does perhaps not get his head in front as much as he should, but he heads back to the Grand National in good form.

Trainer Charlie Longsdon was full of praise for his run, and said: "You can’t be anything but very proud of the horse."

Pendra (left) was just edged out in the Kim Muir having jumped the last in front

You feel sorry for My Tent Or Yours. That's three Champion Hurdles he´s been second in; what more can you say about him?
E.W. Terms
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