Henllan Harri lands huge shock under inspired Bowen ride
Henllan Harri pulled off a major upset in the bet365 Gold Cup when claiming the last big jumps race of the season for Wales and father and son Peter and Sean Bowen.
A 40-1 chance who was 4lb out of the handicap, he made all in the famous chase over 3m5f and had enough reserves to secure the judge's verdict when Vyta Du Roc finished strongly to force a photo.
There were eight horses in with a shot of victory jumping the last but Henllan Harri was not quite for catching, passing the winning post a head in front, with Theatre Guide a neck further back in third.
It was a special moment for the jockey and one gained despite major reservations about the decision by his father – whose previous biggest win came with Al Co in the 2014 Scottish Grand National – to contest a race in which he was 4lb wrong.
But Bowen and Henllan Harri were left alone in front and on his 13th start over fences he was not found wanting despite the significant rise in class.
Bowen jnr said: "That was unreal. Who would have thought three runs ago when he was winning at Ffos Las that he'd come here and win a Bet365.
"It's the biggest prize ever for Dad. It's brilliant. It's a different feeling to ride a winner like that for your parents. It shows what a good trainer he is. I thought he was a muppet wanting to run him in the bet365, but he was right again."
Last year the stable had expectations of landing land this £150,000 prize with Henri Parry Morgan, who went off 5-1 favourite and was full of running when unseating Bowen at the 19th.
Peter Bowen said: "This horse has done it well, but he had only 10st on his back, which helped a fair bit. He loves that ground and, although we weren't sure about the trip, he's got it well.
"I thought he'd run well, but he's run a bit above himself I'd say. I thought off 122 he'd never get into a good race like this, but when confirmations came through and it cut up a bit I thought we might sneak in."
The trainer is already planning for next season, when a Grand National challenge, in which he saddled Mckelvey to finish second in 2007, is a possible goal.
"He'll have a long break now and we'll see what he does early on next season," Bowen added. "If he got up high enough in the handicap he could be a National horse. He's from the same family as Silver Birch."
Vyta Du Roc nearly capped a magnificent day, and season, for Nicky Henderson on the afternoon he sealed the trainers' championship.
"Daryl [Jacob] thought he might have got there but it wasn't to be," said Henderson. "He goes through a flat spot, which doesn't help, but he finishes with a rattle."
Both Bowen jnr and Jacob received two-day bans (May 13-14), and Jacob admitted he thought he was riding to the second winning post - though that could not be said to have been pivotal to the outcome.