STAMINA KEY TO ON THE BLIND SIDE
Trainer Nicky Henderson was delighted with the performance of On The Blind Side, who stayed on strongly on the run-in to record a two and a half length victory at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The 9/2 shot, who remains unbeaten, travelled reasonably well under jockey Nico De Boinville and the pair loomed dangerously as the field turned for home, with Poetic Rhythm and eventual runner-up Momella going toe-to-toe at the head of the field.
However, these two horses could not match the staying power of On The Blind Side on the run for home, with the five-year-old striding away up the hill to leave his trainer looking forward to seeing the powerful gelding over fences next season.
"He's stayed on strongly at the end but ran a funny race really," said Henderson.
"He struggled coming down the hill but came up the hill really well. He's finished off superbly though.
"He wasn't travelling as well as he ought to have been but he's obviously got stamina rather than speed. It was a good gallop all the way though - it was a good performance.
"I seriously hope we see him back in one of these novice chases here next season - that really should be on the cards. Where we go from here, I'm not sure. I would have thought he'll end up at three miles at the end of the season - the Albert Bartlett (at the Festival) would have to be on the agenda. I'm not saying he'll start over three miles on his next start though."
Henderson also had news of William Henry, who was pulled up before the eighth fence when his saddle slipped in the Steel and Sections Novices' Chase.
"He jumped badly right all the way but I saw Might Bite (also trained by Henderson and winner of last year's RSA Chase at The Festival) do exactly the same thing on his first start here so I'm living on those omens!
"Davy Russell (jockey) did the right thing in pulling him up so we'll take him back and school him again next week. He does have a tendency to do that but he frightened himself at the first and that was that."
ON THE BLIND SIDE LANDS THE TOUCHDOWN FOR HENDERSON
The Nicky Henderson-trained On The Blind Side maintained his unbeaten record under Rules with an ultimately impressive victory in the G2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.
The 9/2 shot was outpaced going down Cleeve Hill but kept on strongly after the final flight to quicken clear under Nico De Boinville to score by two and a half-lengths from Dan Skelton's Momella (7/1) in second, with a nose back to Fergal O'Brien's Poetic Rhythm (9/2) in third.
The victory earned the five-year-old son of Stowaway a quote of 16/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March with Paddy Power.
Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey De Boinville said: "We got slightly outpaced going down the hill, but as soon as he met the rising ground there, he stayed on really well.
"I knew he would stay and I think he could be a three miler in time so I knew we would have a chance of catching them if they came back to us, which did happen.
"He is very genuine but is a very raw horse. He is a chaser in the making and has loads of potential.
"We might step him up in trip towards the end of the season but that's up to Nicky really.
"He just stays all day. We weren't sure at Aintree because we quickened off a slow pace there but we got a true gallop here - it rode like a really good G2.
"That is the first time that he has gone a proper clip. I like that he has quickened, stayed on and kept going all the way. He jumped well at the last and had a bit of a wander on the run-in but he is smashing."
Harry Skelton, rider of the second Momella, said: "I'm absolutely delighted with her. She is a real nice mare and she has got some black type over hurdles. That was only her third start over hurdles so we couldn't be happier."
3.35pm Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
1 On The Blind Side (Alan Spence) Nicky Henderson 5-11-00 Nico De Boinville 9/2
2 Momella (Holt, Clark, Macnabb, Nugent & Robinson) Dan Skelton 5-10-07 Harry Skelton 7/1
3 Poetic Rhythm (The Yes No Wait Sorries) Fergal O'Brien 6-11-05 Paddy Brennan 9/2
7/4 Fav Calett Mad (5th)
Distances: 2½, nose
Tote Win: £4.50 Places: £2.40 £2.60 Exacta: £28.90