Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon proved an emotional amphitheatre as the home of national hunt racing witnessed plenty of tears, some of joy, but sadly many more of sadness. Three-time Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours confounded his critics by taking the £130,000 Unibet International Hurdle while the David Pipe-trained popular handicapper Starchitect suffered the fate all connections dread after the mount of Tom Scudamore broke down with the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup apparently at his mercy.
Without a win over the smaller obstacles since taking Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle four years ago, the JP McManus-owned My Tent Or Yours has proved the bridesmaid on three occasions in a bid to take Jump racing’s hurdling crown, finding Jezki, Annie Power and most recently Buveur D’Air the only stumbling block in an effort to claim a Champion Hurdle victory. But despite rising eleven next month the son of Desert Prince will be back at Prestbury Park next March in an effort to make it fourth-time lucky.
With just over four lengths covering the first six in the seven-runner race, formerly known as the Bula Hurdle, the 2m 1f feature contest on Saturday afternoon can go down as one of the season’s highlights so far. The Willie Mullins-trained 7-4 market leader Melon proved his own worst enemy after failing to settle for pilot David Mullins but in finishing a close third could still prove a force at the highest level if overcoming that tendency.
The International Hurdle in 60(ish) seconds:— ITV Racing (@itvracing) December 17, 2017
🍉 v ⛺️ v 🆕1️⃣
An absolute belter.
Race and reaction from winning jockey, losing jockeys, trainer and owner: pic.twitter.com/ZmU2AYewEN
Trying to win the race for a record fourth time The New One put up another game effort in an attempt to make all but the concession of 6lb to My Tent Or Yours proved the deciding factor on the run to the line. As short as 14-1 with bet365 for the 2018 Champion Hurdle Nicky Henderson’s charge can still be backed at a best price 25-1 with Skybet and William Hill for what would prove a well-deserved victory in the opening day of next years festival.
Tipped by this column at 25-1 for last month’s Betvictor Gold Cup only to be nearly brought down by Theinval at the first fence, northern challenger Guitar Pete had luck on his side this time when pulling clear of 3-1 favourite Clan Des Obeaux on the run-in to reward those who stuck with the 9-1 mount of Ryan Day. But second place would probably have been the seven-year-olds finishing position had clear leader Starchitect not suffered a fatal injury with two to jump. Most of those at Cheltenham on Saturday would agree that Jump racing is a wonderful sport. Unfortunately, the price to be paid for our entertainment can prove very costly at times. At this moment no one knows that more than trainer David Pipe and his Pond House team.
Confirmation that Guitar Pete won our opening race at Cheltenham but our thoughts and winning rider Ryan Day's, as he says here, are with connections of Starchitect pic.twitter.com/SKLBz2tCqP— ITV Racing (@itvracing) December 16, 2017