Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
1st (18) Silk Affair 11/1
Silk too Smooth in Fred Winter Affair
A long-term plan came to fruition when Silk Affair brought both trainer Mick Quinlan and jockey Tom O’Brien first successes when winning the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
“It’s not just our first winner here but our first runner,” said Noel Quinlan, brother and assistant to the winning trainer. “She’s very talented and I was delighted to see them go so patiently.
“The only worry I had was the ground because she was going back in distance to two miles but nothing else concerned me beforehand.”
The winner was bred and part-owned by Micheal Fahy, nominations manager at Rathbarry Stud, who sold a share to Liam Mulryan.
“Micheal is anxious to take her to Fairyhouse for a Grade Three at Easter but we’ll see, if she’s not right she’ll go home and have a long rest.
“She was rated 94 as a two-year-old and we kept trying to black type - she went to Roscommon last year then ran in the Irish Oaks a week later then went to France so she deserves a rest.
“I think she could be a David Nicholson filly next year or even one for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
“Since the day she ran behind Starluck at Kempton on Boxing Day this has been the plan. But I couldn’t believe the handicapper only put her on 110, I thought she would get 115 or 116 and we had to run her quickly last time to pick up a penalty so she would get in.”
Jockey Tom O’Brien added: “I’ve been sat in the weighing room all day just waiting for this and that’s why. She’s a great little mare and everything went to plan.
"I am really delighted because I have been riding her all season. She got beat by Starluck on her first start over hurdles when she ran green but she has built on that since.
"I was wondering as I was going along whether this would be the one to give me a first Festival winner but I thought that she can't be because she was only winning small races. She has just kept building and building and she's got a future.
"She's very tough and she puts her head down and gallops like a greyhound. I really enjoy riding her and hope that she can take the next step.
"She won over further at Sandown and Towcester and today she has put her head down and galloped up the hill, which has suited her. My worry today was that she might get outpaced at some stage and I thought when things got tight down the back she got shuffled too far back. She's managed to travel away and she's certainly quite good.
"I rode her a bit handy today because of the ground. You can sit last on her over two and a half miles on heavy and she will just pick them up off a lenient mark but you can't do that here.
"Its very special to win here and I just want it again now.”
SATICON TOUGHS IT OUT
Alan King may still be waiting for his first winner of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, but he’s not been very far away. Saticon’s third place in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle was his fourth placed horse and the trainer acknowledged: “I can’t complain, they’re all running well.”
Wayne Hutchinson, deputising for the injured Robert Thornton, charted a wide course on Saticon. “We got forced out there a bit, but he’s a horse that doesn’t like to be crowded,” explained the trainer.
Even though he travelled further than almost any other horse in the race, the four-year-old finished strongly. “He certainly is tough, the way he stayed on up the hill. I still think he’ll be a better horse on quicker ground. This was only just all right for him.”
Welsh trainer Tim Vaughan was extremely pleased with the effort of Ski Sunday, just his second runner at The Festival, who finished the three-length runner-up in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
He said of the 20/1 chance: "I am delighted. We ran Helens Vision here yesterday but this horse was our first runner at The Festival with a live chance. I’ve only been seriously at this game for the past 10/11 months so this is just fantastic.
"I thought he would finish in the first four or five. Seamus (Durack) said he didn’t have the clearest of runs but I am not begrudging second place.
"He will now go to Aintree."
The 5/2 favourite, Alexander Severus, came to challenge on the bridle, but the jockey Andrew McNamara was soon working hard, and the horse could only manage fourth place. “I just don’t think he came up the hill,” said the trainer Edward O’Grady.
FACTS & FIGURES
1. The Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle commemorates one of the greatest figures in the history of jump racing both as a jockey and trainer. Fred Winter, who died aged 77 in April, 2004, was champion jockey four times and rode the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winner twice (1961 Saffron Tartan, 1962 Mandarin) and won the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle on three occasions as a rider (1955 Clair Soleil, 1959 Fare Time, 1961 Eborneezer). He had 17 Festival successes as a jockey. He retired from the saddle at Cheltenham's spring meeting in 1964 and went on to be champion trainer on eight occasions. He won four Champion Hurdles as a trainer (1971 and 1972 Bula, 1974 Lanzarote, 1988 Celtic Shot) and, although the Cheltenham Gold Cup proved elusive for a long while as a trainer, he finally landed the race in 1978 with Midnight Court. He saddled a total of 28 Festival winners and holds the unique feat of having been the only man to have both ridden and trained winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
2. The Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle was one of the new races introduced to The Festival in 2005 when it was extended to four days.
3. The inaugural running went to Dabiroun, partnered by Nina Carberry. Carberry became the second female jockey to win a Festival race other than the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase, following on from Gee Armytage.
FRED WINTER JUVENILE NOVICES’ HANDICAP HURDLE PAST RESULTS
2007-WINNER-GASPARA 4-10-11 Owner-Martin Pipe; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Andrew Glassonbury;
SP-9/2 Joint Fav
2006-WINNER-SHAMAYOUN 4-11-03 Owner-Ronald Brimacombe; Trainer-Charles
Egerton; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-40/1
2005-WINNER-DABIROUN 4-11-04 Owner-Donal O’Gorman;
Trainer-Paul Nolan IRE; Jockey-Miss Nina Carberry; SP-20/1
FRED WINTER JUVENILE NOVICES’ HANDICAP HURDLE ROLL
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer Owner SP Ran
2008 Crack Away Jack
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