Unibet International Hurdle
|Grade 2, Cheltenham 15:05
2m 179y, Class 1
|Saturday 14th December 2019
1 Call Me Lord 2/1F
8 ran NR: Big Blue Distances: nk, 1¼l, 3l
Time: 4m 18.96s (slow by 24.96s)
It was a sixth win in the G2 Unibet International Hurdle for trainer Nicky Henderson as 2/1 favourite Call Me Lord took the contest under James Bowen.
Racing in the familiar green silks of owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Call Me Lord raced keenly as Elixir De Nutz (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden) made the running.
As the field turned for home, the race looked wide open and Call Me Lord moved into a challenging position at the final flight. The six-year-old ran on to well to take the lead a furlong from home and kept on finding more to hold off the persistent challenge of Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies) by a neck. Ch'tibello (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton) was another length and a quarter back in third. The disappointment of the race was the previously unbeaten Pentland Hills (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville), who after looking to hold every chance at the last faded into fifth.
James Bowen came in for the ride on Call Me Lord as Daryl Jacob, retained jockey to Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, broke his hand at Musselburgh on 9 December.
Call Me Lord had previously shown his best form over longer distances, with his biggest prior success coming in the G2 bet365 Select Hurdle over an extended two miles and five furlongs at Sandown Park in April, 2019.
Nicky Henderson said: "You are probably wondering what I have been doing with Call Me Lord for the last three years but it (going right-handed) was a trait that he was doing the whole time at home - it's funny but he hasn't been doing this year. That's why we decided that we would give him one try this way round and see if he could. It gives us more options.
"It looked as though Pentland Hills got a touch tired in the end. He over-raced a little early on for me. He looked as though he was travelling supremely well through the race and, luckily for once, it was a good idea to run two in the race.
"Call Me Lord is a good horse and ran a great race as Ascot the other day. He is very versatile in terms of distance and now that he is versatile over left and right, it helps us a lot.
"The horse you want to look out for is Fusil Raffles, who is also in the green colours. He is in good form and goes for the Christmas Hurdle along with Verdana Blue and Epatante, so we will probably be treble-handed there. Then we will sort out the Champion Hurdle."
James Bowen added: "We have gone quite slowly. I have probably thought early on that Call Me Lord gets further and he might not have the speed to get down to the last in front but the turn of foot that he has shown was really good. He has got to the last in front and battled it out from there, so he has done it well.
"He was straight as an arrow. You can't say that he can't go left-handed until he has tried and he has put those sorts of rumours to bed. He has been very straightforward.
"Daryl Jacob has helped massively with every horse that I have ridden in these colours. I can't thank Anthony Bromley, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede enough for putting me on, and even the boss as well. They have kept the faith and I can't thank them enough.
"A couple of months ago, I wasn't riding whole lot of winners but it has picked up again now. I can't thank all the people who have been supporting me. It's all about the horse you ride and most jockeys probably struggle a bit after losing their claim."
Unibet International Hurdle (Grade 2)
NO. FORM HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY
1 69213- Ch'tibello 8 11-4 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton
£140,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 179y, Class 1
2 49-312 Gumball 5 11-4 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson
3 811-14 Le Patriote 7 11-4 Dr Richard Newland Aidan Coleman
4 F2111- Elixir De Nutz 5 11-3 Colin Tizzard Harry Cobden
5 111- Pentland Hills 4 11-3 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
6 133-64 Ballyandy 8 11-0 Nigel Twiston-Davies Sam Twiston-Davies
8 1/73-2 Call Me Lord 6 11-0 Nicky Henderson James Bowen
9 120-13 Monsieur Lecoq 5 11-0 Mrs Jane Williams Lizzie Kelly
NR 7 112-1 Big Blue 7 11-0 Ciaron Maher & David Eustace NON RUNNER