Bill Hennessy's Hero De Villeneuve lands Perth prize
Hennessy's Hero lands Perth prize
IRISH trainers made a successful raid on Perth yesterday with the Champion Hurdle-winning colours of Bill Hennessy being carried to victory in the feature event.
Hennessy's Hero De Villeneuve took the RAF Leuchars Ops Squadron Handicap Chase. Trained by Hennessy's son Robbie, the 15/2 shot was once more showing his liking for travel – having twice won at Bangor in Wales last month.
Brian Hughes was aboard Hero De Villeneuve and the jockey executed waiting tactics to perfection as the partnership forged seven lengths clear of Five Star Wilsham on the run-in.
"We've had a few winners over in England, Wales and Scotland, we'll have to think about moving over," said Hennessy Jnr. "He's actually 10lb better off in Ireland, so that's an option, so we'll see what the British handicapper thinks. We'll keep him ticking along as he likes good ground."
The other Irish winner was, predictably enough, trained by Gordon Elliott, who has been leading trainer at the Scottish venue in the past.
Elliott's Top Chief was backed into 5/2 favourite for the selling hurdle and the market confidence was rewarded as Wilson Renwick steered the gelding to a length victory.
At Worcester, Tony McCoy was in the wars as he overcame a crunching fall to ride the winner of the following race before standing himself down for the rest of the day. Partnering Jonjo O'Neill's Flemenson in the Blazing Savills Handicap Hurdle, McCoy appeared to have the race in the bag when his mount dived at the second-last flight, firing the Antrim native into the ground.
Sur La Mer and Harry Derham were following and had nowhere to go, with the horse standing on McCoy's chest. The race was won by Aalim, ridden by Denis O'Regan for John Ferguson.
After a few anxious moments, McCoy and Flemenson were on their feet, with the jockey soon changed into the colours of Full Throttle for the novices' hurdle, in which the 10/11 favourite was an easy winner. McCoy had earlier claimed the bumper on Ozzy Thomas (15/8 favourite).
Speaking after Full Throttle's win, a visibly shaken McCoy said: "He (Sur La Mer) stood on my chest and I got a kick in my leg which I've got a couple of stitches in. I'm pretty sore."