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Press Release 27th December 2023 Kempton Park

Sir Gino put himself in contention to try and give trainer Nicky Henderson a recording-extending eighth victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after making his British debut a winning one at Kempton Park today, day two of the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival.

Arriving on the back of a Listed success at Auteuil 253 days ago, the gelded son of It’s Gino was sent off the 4-9 Favourite to follow up that victory in the To Win Free Music Tickets “Introductory” Juvenile Hurdle.  

And despite the odd the sketchy jump in the two-mile affair the long odds-on favourite made light work of his rivals when powering smartly clear during the closing stages of the race under Nico de Boinville. 

After jumping the penultimate flight as if it was an open ditch the Joe and Marie Donnelly-owned three-year-old then fluffed his lines at the last, but it failed to halt Sir Gino’s momentum who eventually passed the post with 14 lengths to spare. 

Henderson, speaking away from the track, said: “He is a lovely horse and his life is in front of him. You could say he nearly wants a fence already, but we won’t be doing that for the time being. 

“He can sharpen up a lot as he was a little bit novicey a couple of times. He was either spectacular at them or he kicked the hurdle out. There was no in-between. 

“He has been a lovely horse to deal with, however he can be a bit keen. He was a little bit green, but that was only his second run of his life. 

“He is a big horse, and he needs to fill into his frame. He does look like a chaser, but hurdles are what he will be going over for the time being.”

Following the race Paddy Power trimmed Sir Gino into 8-1 from 10-1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle which Henderson intends to work back from.  

He added: “He will need to go up in grade now and we can’t pussy foot around with him. You would have thought that the Triumph Hurdle will be where he goes. He is not a typical Triumph Hurdle horse as he is not an ex-Flat racer. He is a proper horse. 

“I’d think he will be okay with everything at Cheltenham, but I would like to give him at least one or two more runs before we go there.”

Owner Sally Weld might have swapped the English winter for a Caribbean cruise, however Aurigny Mill ensured her silks were carried to victory in her absence when running out a clear cut winner of the opening Ladbrokes Boost Your Odds On Racing Handicap Hurdle.

After opening his account for the campaign with victory last time out at Wincanton the Victor Dartnall-trained six-year-old backed up that success when defying a rise in the weights to secure a facile win in the opening two-mile contest.

Hitting the front between the final two flights the 9-1 chance maintained a good gallop all the way to the line before securing glory by seven and a half lengths to leave Devon handler Dartnall dreaming of bigger and better targets.

Dartnall said: “I’ve always thought he was up at this level. This is the second run of his career that we have had a problem-free run up to. 

“He had bruised feet all last season between every run, but we have got on top of all that. My son’s partner rides him out most days and she said he was as good as ever, and she has got it right. 

“Sean Bowen finished fourth on him in a bumper, and he said he would win loads of races, but he was backwards, and it took him time to get his breathing right.

“Fergus (Gillard) said he was off the bridle down the back straight, but he is settling now. He only had the hood on to help him settle. 

“He is just a lovely horse. His owner Sally Weld has been brilliant to us, but she has not been very well. 

“She is actually on a cruise at the moment and I think she is somewhere in the Caribbean. She has been a supporter of the yard for years. 

“I think this will put him in the bottom weights of some of the big handicaps. This race fell apart as they went too hard down the back straight, but we will take today and enjoy it.”


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