My Tent Or Yours was not required to break sweat to win a jumpers’ bumper at Kempton yesterday in what Nicky Henderson described as a “perfect” experience ahead of his challenge for the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
On his first outing since landing the Christmas Hurdle at the same course on St Stephen’s Day, My Tent Or Yours was the 1-5 favourite for a two-mile event on the Polytrack and he took a strong hold in Tony McCoy’s hands as the field passed the stands with a lap to go.
A gelding who has always shown a smart cruising speed, he made a smooth transition from mid-division to reach the lead with over two furlongs left and had no difficulty in pulling four and a half lengths away from Ranjaan, who would be rated around 2st inferior over hurdles. Henderson elected to sidestep Saturday’s Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton because of testing ground and had intended to give the Cheltenham sponsors’ 5-1 third-favourite a racecourse gallop until this fixture was announced late last week.
McCoy said: “He was very fresh as he hadn’t run since Christmas, but this was just to take the fizz out of him.
“I wanted to quicken up in the straight, otherwise I could have followed them along on the bridle all day.”
Henderson said: “From our point of view that was absolutely 100 per cent perfect.
“Everyone’s had long odds-on shots turned over, so we were on a hiding to nothing in way.
“There was Wincanton yesterday against two good horses (Melodic Rendezvous and Zarkandar) but you don’t want Cheltenham horses having tough races now.
“We took a view last week that we wouldn’t run any more Cheltenham horses in soft ground, so we are very grateful that the BHA arranged this.”
McCoy has strongly hinted he will ride My Tent Or Yours than Jezki for owner JP McManus, but said: “I do think we haven’t seen the best of the other horse. I don’t need to make that decision, but this horse is the shorter price and is more likely.”
Any pre-Cheltenham nerves in the Henderson household have not just been agitated by the wet weather.
The champion trainer has also had a two-day power cut to contend with and his labrador just about to give birth.
“It’s been tough – the horsewalkers didn’t work, the lads were cold and couldn’t get any hot food, everything,” he said. “Luckily eight guys from Southern Electric (SSE) came this morning, all the way from Hexham of all places.”
Henderson has ruled one-time Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite West Wizard out until next season and his owner Dai Walters would appear to have another smart novice hurdler to join him in those ranks with Bringithomeminty.
The grey 2-1 favourite made a sparkling reappearance in one of the pure bumper events by dashing eight lengths clear.
Explaining the name, Henderson said: “David Minton (bloodstock agent) wanted to him at the sales and rang up Dai to ask how far he’d go. Dai just said ’bring it home, Minty’.
“He’s been ready to go hurdling for weeks but we haven’t been able to get him out. It’s too late for that, but he could just run in a decent bumper somewhere this season.”
The trainer also struck with Grand Annual possible Tanks For That (9-2) on the afternoon.
Harry Fry has been in a similar position to Bringithomeminty with Zulu Oscar (3-1 co-favourite), who also won well.
“He was declared to go hurdling in January but just had a slight setback,” said Fry. “I don’t think we’ll get ahead of ourselves and go for a championship bumper, I think we’ll wait to go novice hurdling in March.”
Fry also showed up Paul Nicholls by not only relegating his old boss’s 5-2 favourite Silsol in a jumpers’ bumper for hurdlers but winning with 40-1 Ditcheat cast-off Presenting Arms.
“I suppose it shows what a bad job we’ve done with him so far,” said Fry of the price.
“He’s been ready for a month but needs decent ground. We’ll have some fun in novice hurdles in the spring.”
McCoy also rode a double for Brian Ellison with Five In A Row (9-2) and Knightly Escapade (9-1).
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