Unibet Greatwood Hurdle
|Grade 3 Handicap, Cheltenham 14:55
2m 150yds, Class 1
1 Iberico Lord 7/1
2 Lookaway 12/1
3 Luccia 6/1
15 ran NR: Gin Coco Distances: 2½l, 4½l, 2l
Time: 4m 5.33s (slow by 16.33s)
Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville continued their succesful day by securing a victory for Iberico Lord, while their stablemate Luccia claimed third place.
The prestigious two-mile handicap saw Lookaway leading for much of the race until Onlyamatteroftime, a notable ante-post gamble, exited at the fourth last, mirroring his previous misfortune in a near-repeat scenario.
Luccia, the more favored of Henderson's duo, traveled well behind Lookaway but couldn't sustain the challenge as the leader maintained a steady pace. On the contrary, Iberico Lord, guided by de Boinville, improved as the race progressed, finishing strongly and securing a convincing two-and-a-half-length victory. Sonigino took fourth place, followed by Nemean Lion in fifth.
"I thought he was very genuine at the top of the hill when poor Danny got carried out and he stayed straight and he was very true to his line," de Boinville said.
"Then he found plenty, Luccia gave me a nice tow through and then I knew he'd stay the way he stayed on at Sandown at the end of last year and he handled it well.
"I was (always where I wanted to be); there was a nice strip of fresh ground down the inside so that's where I wanted to be."
When asked what the options would be for the 'well handicapped' winner, the jockey replied: "I don't know if that he's that well handicapped is he? I'll let the powers that be decide that."
Henderson revealed that this race had been a long-term target for the JP McManus owned winner, saying: "It was where we were always going to start from a while back. It was an ambitious one, when you saw the first load of entries he wouldn't even get in.
"He's talented, he just hasn't got a lot of experience and last season wasn't exactly easy for him. He fell his first start, his wind was wrong and he had to play with that and then he won a pretty ordinary maiden at Stratford. His last run was good, he was second to a filly of JP's Under Control - she's ready to reappear, she goes to the Gerry Feilden on Friday week I hope - and that looked a pretty solid performance from Iberico that day.
"He's improving and growing up; I wouldn't know where we go or where he's going to finish up but he's talented. We were lucky with Impose Toi who won here on Friday evening, we said he would probably go on to the Ascot race but know he looks as though he really ought to be going to the Ascot race but as JP said it's a nice problem to have.
"That was his first run and he hadn't had an away day as such, Jonbon had been to Windsor and some of them have had a racecourse gallop, but he hasn't and I'm pretty sure he was ready."
The Lambourn handler was also pleased with the run of Luccia but doesn't think that options will be as plentiful for her.
"She's run a super race," he continued. "James (Bowen) said he thought she had come on a wee bit from Wetherby. I was worried it might come a bit quick for her.
"She probably had come on a little bit and it was great coming to the last and seeing her travelling as well as that; she probably looked the more likely of the two for a moment and just hoped one of them would put her head in front.
"Mares (Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival) really but I don't think she's looking as though she wants another half a mile so that doesn't lead her into the mares' race here so we're going to have to tiptoe through the programme book of mares' races. She can run in handicaps but she had enough weight today to be honest so she's got to go into those Listed races, it mightn't be that easy to find races for her."
Unibet Greatwood Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap)
£100,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 2m 87y
1 Iberico Lord 5 11-0 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 7/1
2 2½ Lookaway 6 11-6 Neil King Jack Quinlan 12/1
3 4½ Luccia 5 11-10 Nicky Henderson James Bowen 6/1
4 2 Sonigino 6 11-11 Paul Nicholls Freddie Gingell 11/1
5 ½ Nemean Lion 6 12-0 Kerry Lee Richard Patrick 6/1
6 5½ Go Dante 7 11-0 Olly Murphy Sean Bowen 16/1
7 2½ Knickerbockerglory 7 11-9 5ex Dan Skelton Tristan Durrell 9/1
8 2¾ Punctuation 6 11-11 Fergal O'Brien Paddy Brennan 18/1
9 2¼ Anyharminasking 6 11-11 Jonjo O'Neill Jonjo O'Neill Jr 25/1
PU Swaffham Bulbeck 9 11-4 Stuart Edmunds Ciaran Gethings 100/1
PU Too Friendly 5 12-0 James Owen Lilly Pinchin 33/1
PU Hey Johnny 6 10-11 Thomas Mullins Jack Foley 50/1
PU L'Eau Du Sud 5 11-4 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 11/1
PU Afadil 4 11-1 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 28/1
RO Onlyamatteroftime 7 10-3 W P Mullins Danny Mullins 7/2F
NR 8 Gin Coco 7 11-7 Harry Fry NON RUNNER