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Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

From Nicky's tears to Wayne's world - high drama all the way

Dead-heats are becoming more uncommon
1 of 1

1 Nicky's tears tell a tale 
His brave attempt to fight the tears was almost as courageous as Sprinter himself. But every so often one would creep through on to his cheek. “This is not a funeral, it is a celebration,” he would say, but utter sadness still swirled around box 4038 in the main Cheltenham grandstand. Lumps gathered in throats as Nicky Henderson spent a quarter of an hour eloquently eluding to every little detail about the best horse he has ever trained. The raw emotion of it all was refreshing. Yes, they are 'only' horses to so many, but to Nicky this specific specimen was so much more. The way Henderson conducted himself on Sunday was nothing short of sublime.

2 There are cracks in Thistlecrack
Finally, something for Bradstock, Elliott, Mullins and maybe even De Bromhead to cling on to. Thistlecrack is not robotic after all. He detested ditches on Saturday, especially the first one, and, while he ultimately mastered Marinero pretty easily, it was not flawless. Yet, for all that, if he does put in a cleaner round of jumping next March can you actually envisage anything beating him in the Gold Cup? No, me neither.

 

3 Roger pulls a rabbit out of the hat
Remember Roger Loughran? Yes, the fella who forgot where the winning post was on Central House back in December 2005. Well, the 36-year-old knew exactly where the jam stick was at Cheltenham last Friday as he gave the rapidly improving Peregrine Run an ice-cool ride to win the Grade 2 novice hurdle. It was his first success there, as it was for the thoroughly likeable Peter Fahey too. Two hard-working, genuine gentleman who savoured their moment in the spotlight.

4 Defi is definitely good
Seldom do the paper slips passed on by the PR people from bookmaking firms cause these eyebrows to raise but the 16-1 both William Hill and Paddy Power offered about Defi De Seuil winning the Triumph after he won Saturday's trial so smoothly did just that. What's more, that price is still there. He might not have beaten much but, boy, did he make what he did beat look very ordinary.

5 Aidan's honesty so refreshing
There is no greater virtue than honesty and Aidan Coleman certainly possesses it. There was us thinking he had timed his challenge to perfection on Taquin Du Seuil in the BetVictor Gold Cup but we were wrong. “It was a salvage operation from turning down the back really. I wasn’t happy with anything – I wanted to be a fraction closer, jumping better and travelling closer,” he admitted afterwards. More of the same please, riders.

6 Bumper scuppers plan B
Us Irish love Cheltenham. The track, the town, the pubs, the banter. Combining drinking with gambling is what we do best. But spare a thought for the Corkman who was due to fly home from Birmingham on Sunday night only to realise before the bumper that his flight was actually booked for the following Sunday. Ouch. Unfazed, he told his buddies: “Don't worry, chaps, Boreham Bill will win the bumper and that'll pay for the flight tonight.” Poetic Rhythm scuppered that plan, but only narrowly.

7 Moon destined for the stars
The Sky Bet Supreme Trial was steadily run, turned into a sprint and there were hard-luck stories in behind but you sense no matter which way the race was run the result would have been the same. Moon Racer is an exciting prospect and now we know he is adaptable. He has beaten Ballyandy twice and, right now, he is the one to beat in the festival opener next March. Altior did the double last year and, unless Willie Mullins has a French fireball up his sleeve, lightning could strike twice.

8 Creek a cunning plan for Fox
Now that Sprinter Sacre is retired, there is a massive niche in the British market for a top-notch two-mile chaser and Fox Norton's Shloer stroll suggests he will be a major player in the Tingle Creek. The worrying thing is that he was beaten a total of 43 lengths in his two duels with Douvan last spring but, if last year's Arkle winner does not travel to Sandown, who is going to beat Tizzard's new recruit?

9 Wayne's wacky world
If Wayne Hutchinson had lost the photo-finish of the Listed mares bumper on My Khaleesi nobody would have blamed him for locking himself in his bedroom this week. He had been on the deck three times earlier that day, and none of the falls was his fault, but he dusted himself down and ended the day on a high note. Now that's what you call resilience!

10 Start to Movewiththetimes!
JP McManus won the Betfair Hurdle with Get Me Out Of Here in 2010 and again three years later with My Tent Or Yours. He might have won it with the five-year-old Darlan in 2012 if he hadn't fallen two out. Zarkandar, another five-year-old, picked up the pieces for Nicholls that year and perhaps McManus and Nicholls can team up to win it next February with another exciting youngster. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for Movewiththetimes in the Supreme trial yet he was beaten less than four lengths. He is not one to give up on.

Yes, they are 'only' horses to so many, but to Nicky this specific specimen was so much more. The way Henderson conducted himself on Sunday was nothing short of sublime
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