Wednesday 22 November 2017

Nicky Henderson off to a Flyer as 0 0 Seven strikes Sandown gold

O O Seven ridden by Andrew Tinkler pulls away from the last flight before going on to win the The Becky Cunningham Novices' Hurdle
O O Seven ridden by Andrew Tinkler pulls away from the last flight before going on to win the The Becky Cunningham Novices' Hurdle

O O Seven gave weight and a beating to his rivals with victory in the Becky Cunningham "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle at Sandown.

Having scored with plenty in hand on his hurdling debut at Huntingdon 14 days ago, the 11-8 favourite was forced to work much harder in this two-mile contest to maintain his unbeaten status over hurdles.

Heading out of the back straight the five-year-old had to be squeezed along for a few strides to keep on the tails of the front rank pair Ballagh and Premier Bond.

Although requiring plenty of driving from Andrew Tinkler to get on terms, the Nicky Henderson-trained runner soon opened up a decisive advantage when sent on between the final two flights.

Stablemate and hurdling debutant Premier Bond made ground on the run-in but could not catch the winner, with a length and a quarter between them at the line.

Henderson said: "I like them both. He (O O Seven) wants minding as he is only a baby and he might want stepping up to two-and-a-half now.

"I think he is probably quite good but he still has a fair bit to learn as he was still a bit green.

"They are both stayers."

Flute Bowl extended trainer Gary Moore's remarkable run at the track when winning Mares' Handicap Hurdle.

Fresh from saddling two Sandown trebles from as many meetings, the Horsham handler was on the mark again thanks to a second win of the campaign for the five-year-old.

Lady Of Longstone attempted to repeat the front-running tactics which were used to good effect at Kempton last month, but the David Pipe-trained runner was soon passed on the turn for home by the strong-travelling Woodland Walk and the eventual winner.

In a matter of strides the race was put to bed, with Joshua Moore driving the 5-1 shot into a lead she would not surrender over the second-last.

Finding plenty for pressure at the end of the two-and-a-half-mile contest Flute Bowl powered on up the run in to claim victory by six lengths.

Moore said: "They've been consistently well for a fair while now. I thought Josh gave her an incredible ride.

"He had gone on the inside on the fresh ground then turning for home he switched to the stands side and came up along the bushes. I think that made the difference as he nicked three or four lengths.

"I thought she was a certainty at Huntingdon but the ground dried out and the drop back in trip was far too short for her.

"I think she wants this trip as she is not the fastest horse in the world."

Simply A Legend built on a promising return when getting the better of a thrilling conclusion to the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.

After finishing third here 27 days ago on his first start for 17 months, the six-year-old showed plenty of ability remains intact when prevailing close home in the extended two-mile-five-furlong affair.

The prominently-ridden Foxcub looked to have secured the race after rallying to good effect over the last under James Davies.

With one last effort, though, the 6-1 winner collared Tom Symonds' charge to get up in the dying strides and score by a neck.

Trainer Alan King said: "He settled really well, that has been his problem, but the hood has definitely helped.

"His last run just took the freshness out of him. For most of the race I thought he had settled too well. It was a great ride from Tom Bellamy and I am pleased for him.

"We will see what the handicapper does, but he will be better on better ground as most Midnight Legend's are."

Lil Rockerfeller scored for the first time since triumphing at the Esher venue on the final day of the season back in April with a game success in the Jumeriah Hotels And Resorts December Handicap Hurdle.

Despite hitting a flat spot the 8-1 chance stuck on in spirited fashion to take the Listed prize and build on two placed efforts at Cheltenham and last time out at Huntingdon.

Approaching the last there was little to choose between Devilment, Lil Rockerfeller, Vicenzio Mio and the well-backed Some Plan.

Just like his victory earlier in the year the Neil King-trained runner went into overdrive up the hill to find extra and defeat his Cheltenham conqueror Devilment by two lengths.

King said: "I thought it was a gutsy performance off 11st 11lb. The second season for these four-year-olds can be tough.

"The step up in trip appeared to help last year and while we dropped him back today it was a stiff two miles and the hill has won it for him again.

"Today was the plan. He would love Cheltenham and we were disappointed that we missed the Fred Winter last year as it's tailor made for him.

"We were thinking of the Coral Cup for him, but I think we might have to change that now. It's a nice problem to have."

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