JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
|Grade 2, Cheltenham 12:40
2m 87y, Class 1
|Saturday 18th November 2017
1 Apple's Shakira EvsF
2 Gumball 5/4
Eragon De Chanay 28/1
6 ran Distances: 17l, 5l, 1¼l
Time: 4m 9.10s (slow by 18.10s)
Apple's Shakira destroys the field on her British debut for Nicky Henderson
Apple's Shakira, a full-sister to Apple's Jade
, winner of the Grade One OLBG Mares' Hurdle
at The Festival in March, was an impressive winner of the Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle.
The three-year-old filly, the evens favourite, strode away from second-placed Gumball, a 5/4 chance, to win by 17 lengths in the colours of J P McManus. She was trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty.
Henderson said: "Barry has adored her from the first moment, but she is funny because she doesn't show you anything at home. I was petrified, the first bits of work she did, because I thought this was going to be rather special, but aaargh... But she does jump. Barry schooled her once and said, 'this is the fastest thing I have ever seen, for a three-year-old.' She's good. She's not big, but she's got a lovely temperament. It's only the second race of her whole life; there's lots to learn. She's still green. She jumps like a big horse. She's sweet. As long as they come and do it in the afternoon, I don't mind - far better than these flashy ones, whizzing past you in the morning and then not doing it in the afternoon. I'd rather this way round."
Asked whether she would be aimed at the most obvious target, the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in March, Henderson replied: "I will get some instructions, I'm sure! This was soft ground, she enjoyed it; I must admit I don't think she'd want it too fast. I suppose that's where we finish up. She wants to learn a bit more so she won't be hiding in her stable. It depends what other juveniles they [McManus] have got.
"I haven't got many juveniles, to be fair - I've only run two, which are We Have A Dream [who won at Warwick on November 10] and Apple's Shakira - but the ones I've got are alright!
"I really just didn't know what was going to happen today. I hoped it would be something like that - you always had in your mind that it must be there somewhere, and to be fair I did just enquire as to how well Apple's Jade actually works at home, and I was quite pleased to hear that she doesn't show a whole lot either, so I was always hopeful that if the genes are right, we might be alright."
JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial contender Gumball was strongly fancied to continue Philip Hobbs' excellent record with juvenile hurdlers, but he found the even-money winner Apple's Shakira far too good.
Gumball, ridden by Richard Johnson, attempted to make all, but was challenged by the winner heading for the final turn, and while he kept tabs on her around that bend he was unable to sustain his rally, and went down by 17 lengths. A further five lengths behind was third-placed Eragon De Chanay from Gary Moore's yard.
Hobbs said of the Terry Warner-owned Gumball: "I just think the winner is very good. Our horse was a little fresher than normal, which wasn't ideal, but the winner was clearly the better horse.
"It's getting quite testing out there, and Richard thought it was very soft, but our horse won on soft at Chepstow so we can't use that as an excuse."
Josh Moore, who rode Eragon De Chanay, said: "He ran a nice race - he's not the greatest standard, but he's a fun horse, and he could be a good handicap hurdler one day. He will definitely stay further and he may well want better ground."
JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
(Registered As The Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle) (Grade 2)
£30,000 added, 3yo only, 2m 87y, Class 1
Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places)
||Apple's Shakira (FR) Evsf
||B J Geraghty
|N J Henderson
||Gumball (FR) 5/4
|P J Hobbs
||Eragon De Chanay (FR) 28/1
|G L Moore
||Eh Georges (FR) 40/1
||Felix de Giles
||Speedo Boy (FR) 14/1
||T J O'Brien
||Apparition (IRE) 25/1
||J J Slevin
|Joseph P O'Brien