De Bromhead lightens the load

Henry de Bromhead was back in the winner's circle at Cheltenham for the first time since Sizing Europe's Greatwood Hurdle win two years ago as Loosen My Load struck in the Sharp Novices' Hurdle.

Henry de Bromhead was back in the winner's circle at Cheltenham for the first time since Sizing Europe's Greatwood Hurdle win two years ago as Loosen My Load struck in the Sharp Novices' Hurdle.

It was at this meeting in 2007 when Sizing Europe laid down a Champion Hurdle marker in the colours of Alan and Ann Potts and it was their green and yellow silks which stole the feature on day one of the Open meeting.

There was no appreciable pace in the extended two-mile event and Loosen My Load benefited from being up in the vanguard to slip the field off the bend and hold the late, rallying charge of Cheltenham Bumper second and fellow Irish raider Some Present.

Sizing Europe went on to claim the 2008 Irish Champion Hurdle, and Coral gave the 5-2 winner a 25-1 quote to also progress to a higher level in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle next March.

De Bromhead said: "I think this horse could be as good as Sizing Europe and at this stage I would say he is probably better.

"He has stacks of stamina and could be anything - he's a machine.

"We are thinking about the Supreme Novices' Hurdle for him next March but he will probably have a break now as he's been on the go for a long time."

Spot Thedifference provided Enda Bolger with four consecutive Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase wins between 2004 and 2007 and after a rare blip 12 months ago Garde Champetre returned the cross-country master's name to the score board.

The JP McManus-owned 4-6 favourite was given a typically patient ride by Nina Carberry and overhauled stablemate Heads Onthe Ground over the final obstacle to lead home a Bolger one-two.

Cashmans quote the 10-year-old as their 3-1 favourite to defend his crown and earn a third win in the equivalent race at the Festival.

Bolger said: "Spot won seven times around here and that's this fellow's fourth.

"Nina is the key to him. Heads did us proud too and he could come back for the race here at the December meeting with L'Ami.

"I don't know if Garde Champetre would run there under top-weight."

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual third French Opera returned to the track after his recent Ascot raid to oblige as the 5-2 favourite in the Handicap Chase.

Barry Geraghty made all aboard the market leader to go out on a high before his 12-day suspension for taking the wrong course aboard Paddy Power Gold Cup hope My Petra at Wetherby kicks in on Saturday.

Winning trainer Nicky Henderson said: "I'd certainly plan to run him in the Grand Annual again - he was third in the race last season and he tends to be at the top of his game in the spring and autumn."

Henderson engaged the services of Richard Killoran to do the steering on Lord Ragnar (11-1) and the partnership sailed across the line in the RBC Wealth Management Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

Ian Williams' Weird Al had plenty on his plate approaching the penultimate obstacle but the 12-1 chance found plenty for pressure and pegged back the gallant Knockara Beau to claim the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase by a neck.

Williams said: "This was a huge ask - it was only the third race of his life.

"He looks a proper Cheltenham prospect so we'll take him back, wrap him up and hope he's OK."

Nigel Twiston-Davies just shades Paul Nicholls as the winning-most trainer at this meeting and he turned the opening Irish Times Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase into a real family affair.

His 16-year-old son Sam was in the plate aboard Razor Royale and the youngster excelled himself by steering the 12-1 chance to thumping 23-length success to land his first winner at the track.

The trainer said: "I am very proud of Sam, who has been placed in the Foxhunter here before.

"He was very over-excited and had offers of rides from a lot of the top trainers but I said, 'No, you're going to ride mine'."

More in this section

Sport Push Notifications

By clicking on 'Sign Up' you will be the first to know about our latest and best sporting content on this browser.

Sign Up

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd