Owner Patricia Pugh was on hand to see her silks made famous by the mighty Altior make a return to the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham today, day one of The International, after Attacca maintained his unbeaten record over jumps in the opening British EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
The Nicky Henderson-trained four year old, who is a distant relation of the 10-times Grade One winner, successfully defy a penalty for his last time out success at Kempton Park with a front running success in the two-mile prize.
Although second favourite Master Chewy looked to have every moved covered coming to the final flight Attacca was not for passing with the 5-1 chance pulling out plenty up the run in to score by a length and a quarter.
Henderson said: “You’ve all seen these colours before and he is actually related to Altior. We didn’t buy him because he was a relation of Altior - we bought him as an individual and then we suddenly noticed Altior was on the pedigree!”
“He was very slick. He met the first like an arrow. I promised I would run him over two and a half after Kempton and then Nico (de Boinville) said there wasn’t any pace so I said there is not much point coming around here.
“We didn’t want to come here and it turning into a sprint so I said let’s take the sprint out of the race. Nico’s clocking there was brilliant but the horse does jump. I know Master Chewy because we met him at Ascot when he fell and we won with Persian Time.
“I think he does want another half a mile but that is why we set those fractions and he set them well.
“I thought it was a bit brave coming back to two miles one around here but I must admit it has paid off and it has told us a bit more about him in that he is a bit better than we thought as he wasn’t overly impressive at Kempton.”
As for future targets Henderson hinted that the Urban Logistics Reit Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon on February 9th could be an option.
Henderson added: “I still think you would be looking to step him to two and a half and ride a normal race. We only did that pace making lark as stamina was going to be his biggest strength.
“That (Sidney Banks) would be a lovely race for him. We will see what happens over the New Year. Everybody enjoyed that and so did I.”
The Scottish Grand National is a race missing from the CV of trainer Dan Skelton, but he could have a contender for the race in Hidden Heroics, who doubled his tally over fences in the Cheltenham & South-West Racing Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Described by the Alcester handler as like ‘hippo with a hernia’ following his below par comeback effort over hurdles at Aintree in October, the five year old has not looked back since being switched to fences.
After bolting up on his chasing debut at Exeter last month the 10-11 Favourite added to that success when making all for a 25-length success in the extended three miles and a furlong prize under the trainer’s brother Harry.
Skelton said: “He jumped nicely, although he was a little bit out to his right. I ran him at Aintree at the start of the season and we dropped him in and he ran like a hippo with a hernia. It was awful.
“We said we will make the running over fences now and he is two from two and hasn’t come off the bridle twice. Okay, he is not competing in the deepest races of all time but he is doing what is requited of him.
“He has had a clear round around Cheltenham as a novice which is not the easiest task in the world so we are very happy with him. He has always had the ability but when we dropped him in he was like I can’t be bothered with all that.
“We will keep going as we are and find some more novice handicaps. I’m not going to step up dramatically in grade at the moment but come the spring time we might look at something like a Scottish Grand National.”