Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle
|Grade 2, Cheltenham 15:10
2m 4f 56yds, Class 1
|Wednesday 1st January 2020|
1 Summerville Boy 10/1
2 Roksana 7/2
3 William Henry 15/2
6 ran Distances: 2¼l, 1¼l, 3¼l
Time: 5m 14.42s (slow by 27.42s)
The winner was returning to hurdles after a fall at the water jump in Sandown's Grade One Henry VIII Novices' Chase in early-December, before which he'd won on chasing debut at Uttoxeter.
Johnny Burke sent the winner for home between the final two flights and while Roksana looked up approaching the last, Summerville Boy really knuckled down on the run to the line to score by two and a quarter lengths.
The disappointment of the race was Emitom, who was last throughout.
George said: "He had always schooled well over fences, but when things went wrong last time, I thought 'let's go back over hurdles' and this seemed the obvious race.
"We thought he might need a bit further so we thought we would try two and a half today, see how we got on and he answered those questions for us.
"He used to be very wound up as a younger horse, but he is very relaxed now. We put the ear plugs back in, which probably helped him relax a bit more. He has always looked like being a proper stayer, as in the Supreme he outstayed them if anything and he has just galloped away today.
"He has jumped well and schooling over fences and running in chases has probably just helped his jumping over hurdles.
"A lot of people have put a lot of work into this horse. He had a lot of problems last year before the Irish Champion Hurdle and he was only beaten six lengths by Buveur D'Air staying on that day, so that's why we thought there would be no problem him staying.
"Over fences it hasn't gone right, so we were back to knew what we could do. We won't be going shorter, put it that way."
Tom Messenger, assistant to Roksana's trainer Dan Skelton, was satisfied with the mare's effort but unsure on future plans.
He said: "It was a really good run and we have been beaten by a horse that has won a Supreme, so he was no mug and he has come here without a penalty.
"We could have probably enjoyed a bit more of test of stamina. We have been beaten by a speed horse.
"What we do in the spring, whether we come here for the mares' race then go to Aintree for the Grade One (Stayers Hurdle) she was just touched off in last year, or whether we go straight to Aintree, I'm not sure. I think she is better in the spring."
Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2)
£50,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 56yds, Class 1
Going: Soft, Good to Soft in places
1 Summerville Boy 8 11-0 Tom George Jonathan Burke 10/1
2 2¼ Roksana 8 10-13 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 7/2
3 1¼ William Henry 10 11-4 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 15/2
4 3¼ Janika 7 11-0 Nicky Henderson James Bowen 9/4F
5 2¼ Quel Destin 5 11-3 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 12/1
6 10 Emitom 6 11-0 Warren Greatrex Gavin Sheehan 5/2