Triumph Dream alive for connections after cosy Grade 1 success
He already trains the favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle and Nicky Henderson now houses the second favourite after he claimed his fourth Finale Juvenile Hurdle with We Have A Dream.
We Have A Dream, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was cut to 7-1 (from 8-1) by Paddy Power in a market headed by stablemate Apple's Shakira after he edged a duel with Sussex Ranger to take the race won 12 months earlier by Defi Du Seuil, last season's champion juvenile.
In such demanding conditions there was every expectation the winning margin would be more decisive but We Have A Dream found Sussex Ranger a difficult opponent to shake off as he scored by a length and a half.
"What I wasn't expecting was to see two horses quicken up from the second last to the last." said Henderson. "They haven't even gone as fast as we thought they might do and it turned into a sprint.
"He has made all the last two times and today he has done it nicely from the last. He quickened up really well. He will probably need to run again."
Sussex Ranger, unbeaten going into the race after he made all at Sandown last time, was not able to dictate affairs as Mercenaire went on but lost little in defeat to earn a 16-1 quote (from 25) for the Triumph Hurdle from Power.
Jockey Jamie Moore said: "He's been beaten by a better horse. I wouldn't have a clue about plans and everything was fine, we were just beaten by a better horse – no excuses."
Nick Williams, trainer of Mercenaire, beaten 11 lengths into third, said: "He ran a good, solid race – he's run to about 130 there hasn't he? That was the hottest juvenile of the season – a really strong race. The Fred Winter is a possibility, but we are dependent on soft ground. I'd like to get another run into him with a penalty."
Shakira to dance the next dance at Cheltenham
Apple's Shakira was a Finale entry herself but Henderson has Cheltenham – where she has won both her starts in this country – at the end of the month in mind for the filly's next start.
"She is good and the plan will be to go to Cheltenham on trials day," he said. "She will only need one more run to keep her fresh."
His other Triumph candidate Style De Garde, who won at Newbury, heads to Huntingdon next Friday for the Chatteris Fen Hurdle.