Sir Gino (5-4) is now favourite to hand trainer Nicky Henderson a record-extending eighth success in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival after he comfortably defeated the previously unbeaten Burdett Road (6-5 Favourite) in the opening Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham today, Festival Trials Day.
Partnered for the first time by James Bowen, who was deputising for the injured Nico de Boinville, Sir Gino and Burdett Road (James Owen/Harry Cobden) had the race between them at the final flight as the pair reeled in longtime leader Milan Tino. The race was soon put to bed by the Marie Donnelly-owned Sir Gino, as he quickened impressively to win by 10 lengths.
The son of It’s Gino is now unbeaten in three starts and a best-priced 7-4 with Coral/Ladbrokes for the JCB Triumph Hurdle on Friday 15th March.
Nicky Henderson said: “He is a lovely horse. He has got all the attributes, and he shows it to you.
“We were going to find out (how good he was today) and hopefully we have. He has got a lot of scope. We have got to go through the motions, but he is a four-year-old that knows his job. That is only the third run of his life, but he knows what he is doing. He jumped much slicker today than he did at Kempton, but we have been practising a bit and he has got the hang of it now. He was very green at Kempton and he learned a lot from there.
“He is very good. He has always told us that. He just learnt a lot at Kempton. He was a bit novicey, and he was a bit green when he hit the front, but he knew exactly what to do today. As James (Bowen) said he gave him one flick to say let's go and the acceleration was considerable. I think we have been quite bullish, but reluctant to show too much in case we finish up with egg on our face.
“We always said we would come here, but at the time we probably thought the other horse (Burdett Road) was going to go elsewhere. I think you just come straight back here (for the Triumph Hurdle). He knew what he was doing today, and you don’t need any more practice. He would jump a fence so you have to look after the future as well as the present.
“That was impressive I think, in which case he is pretty smart. He is a talented individual, and he always has been since the day we started with him. Jerry McGrath found him, and purchased him in France for Joe and Marie (Donnelly, owners).
“Sadly she (Marie) broke her hands two days ago. She was due to be here, but hopefully she is mending.”
James Owen, trainer of runner-up Burdett Road, said: “It is disappointing to get beaten but that is horseracing. I think we have bumped into a very good horse there and it is going to be hard to beat him in the Triumph Hurdle.
“I was quite pleased with how my horse settled today, and he jumped a lot better. He just got a bit keen as there was no pace from halfway, but I’m not making any excuses.
“He will need to improve a lot to beat Sir Gino, but I’m happy enough we still have got a good horse.
"It will be different conditions and there will be more runners and there will be a lot more pace on so we will give it another go at him.”