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Press Release 19th November 2023 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Just over half an hour after the imperious success of Jonbon in the Grade Two Shloer Chase, the combination of owner JP McManus, trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville were in the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure once again courtesy of Iberico Lord (7-1) in the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.

Lookaway, a Grade Two winner over the course and distance at The Showcase last month, made the running in the extended two-mile contest and looked to have seen off all challengers until Iberico Lord loomed up menacingly after the last.

It was the latter who came home the strongest, getting up to score by two and a half lengths. Henderson was also responsible for the third home Luccia who was a further four and a half lengths adrift. It was a 10.5-1 big-race double for the McManus-Henderson-de Boinville combination.

Henderson, who was saddling his first Greatwood winner, said: “We wanted to get a team assembled for this meeting as JP was coming back for it so we gathered a few of the troops together for the weekend with Impose Toi and these two and it has paid off.

“Under Control, who is going for the Gerry Feilden at Newbury, beat him at Sandown fair and square and there was no fluke about it. I thought he was very good to start with then he fell on his second start for us, then his wind didn’t work in his next one and then everything went wrong, but we got him there at the end of the day.

“Apparently this my first time winning this race, but I can’t remember what happened 40 something years ago, but at least Unibet sponsor this race now as they are very good sponsors as they sponsor this race and me.

“Going to the last I thought one of you please win (Luccia or Iberico Lord). They both ran super races.

“It took time for him to get his act together last season. He won a very moderate race at Stratford and it didn’t sound like we were heading for the Greatwood Hurdle at that time. The Sandown run was good, but Under Control might be pretty good too.

“AP said he thought the Ascot race (Betfair Exchange Trophy) would suit Impose Toi, but so it would this horse. One of them will have to go there but as JP said that is a nice problem to solve. It has been a good weekend altogether and Nico has given them all some lovely rides.”

Nico de Boinville told ITV Racing: “He was great today. It got a bit rough at the top of the hill but I was able just to take a pull and give him and a breath of air.

“I knew Luccia was going to take me all the way to the last and to be fair she did. The way he ran at Sandown last time he was staying on all the way and I knew he’d love the hill and that ground today.”

Neil King, trainer of the runner-up Lookaway (12-1), said: “He has done nothing wrong and Jack (Quinlan) has given him a cracking ride from the front. We have won our Grade Two here and he went up 10lbs for that, and maybe without that we would have won today, but we will take the Grade Two and finish second today.

“We might now go to Ascot for the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Christmas and that is what I have got on my mind at the moment. I must admit I thought we would take a lot of catching today, but there was just one who turned out to get past us unfortunately.”


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