The racing Gods were looking down favourably on Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero after White Rhino resumed his remarkable rise through the ranks in today’s concluding Citipost Handicap Hurdle to move a step closer to an outing at the Cheltenham Festival.
Less than an hour after stable star Gesskille was fatally injured in the Glenfarclas Crystal Cup Cross Country Handicap Chase, the progressive seven-year-old made it five wins from his last seven starts when appearing to appreciate the step up to three miles for the first time.
Hitting the front after the last the 3-1 Favourite got the better of an entertaining late battle with Bold Endeavour, who was one of two runners in the race for Nicky Henderson alongside Captain Morgs, by two and a quarter lengths under Henry Brooke.
Guerriero said: “You would swap it around and not have a winner and have Gesskille back, but that is the way it is. Gesskille was a stable star and he literally put us on the map. He has been amazing. To lose him is so sad, but that is racing unfortunately.
“White Rhino has been brilliant for these owners. He has been a star this horse. He just keeps getting better and better and it is great for a lovely bunch of local owners.
“He was so backward, and the size of him meant he was so weak. When he was running in those novice hurdles he could barely get around.
“We gave him a break, and he came back stronger, and then he was in handicaps, and he got his confidence in low grade handicaps. His confidence and strength have gone together.
“It is impossible to know (if he has reached his ceiling). We thought he might be near it, but he just keeps winning.
“We might try and get him qualified for the Pertemps Final and maybe come back here for The Festival. He is so progressive, and you need that type of horse for that race.
“We’ve not had one as progressive as he has been, and they don’t come around that often.”
An emotional Henry Brooke told ITV Racing: “It has been one of my hardest days in racing for a long time.
“We’ve lost a friend today in Gesskille and a big member of the team. It’s just a sad day all round.
“Take nothing away from this fella – we’ve lost one star but might have another one on our hands.
“I’m very emotional and absolutely gutted for everybody.”