Jeriko Du Reponet justified his lofty reputation with a facile success on his rules debut at Newbury.
An impressive winner on his sole start in the Irish point-to-point field in the spring, the French-bred four-year-old was subsequently snapped up by JP McManus and sent to Nicky Henderson.
The Seven Barrows dogs had been barking his name even prior to a recent racecourse gallop at Newbury, while he was already prominent in ante-post lists for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March even before he jumped off for his competitive introduction in Berkshire.
Jeriko Du Reponet was the 4-11 favourite for the Coral Get Closer To The Action “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle, a race Henderson has won six times in the last 10 years, with two McManus-owned stars in dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air and the top-class Jonbon among those on the roll of honour.
Nico de Boinville had to chivvy the trainer’s latest candidate into the bridle on a couple of occasions in the home straight, but he was motionless after jumping the final flight upsides in front and soon eased three and a quarter lengths clear of the runner-up King William Rufus.
“It was quite straightforward, the main thing was to give him the experience as well. I thought he was very genuine, it rode like an OK race and he’s gone through it well,” De Boinville told Racing TV.
“There was a bit of a tight gap, which it was good that he came through, and once he’s got through that he’s come back on the bridle.
“He’ll obviously come on for the run, he had a nice piece of work here about 10 days ago and he’s a very good-looking horse.”
Paddy Power make Jeriko Du Reponet an 8-1 shot for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, while Unibet were even more impressed and offer just 4-1 for the traditional Festival curtain-raiser.
Henderson said: “He’s got a long way to go and his life is in front of him, and without being unfair to the others, it probably wasn’t the hottest novice hurdle you’ve ever seen run at Newbury, but he is the most beautiful horse.
“He has a lovely temperament, everything works and he’ll have learnt a lot doing that. There was a horse in front ducking and diving around and it was nice that Nico asked him to go through a gap because he could have gone round them and round again and still probably won, but he slotted through nicely and it was all professional.
“I was wondering about the novice hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, he could probably slot into that.”
The Venetia Williams-trained Djelo justified 15-8 favouritism in the Coral Racing Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase under Charlie Deutsch, before Wodhooh maintained her unbeaten record over obstacles in the ‘Bet In-Race’ With Coral Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle.
Gordon Elliott’s Irish raider was a 2-5 shot to add to her previous hurdling wins at Listowel, Punchestown and Down Royal and took the step up to Listed class in her stride as she eased two and three-quarter lengths clear of the gallant Max Of Stars in the hands of Jack Kennedy.
Elliott was on hand to saddle his first ever winner at Newbury and said: “I’d say four or five runners is all I’ve had here, but it’s great to come over and have a winner for a great bunch of owners.
“She’s got a lovely attitude, she doesn’t do anything fancy at home or on the racecourse but she keeps winning, and Jack said she felt better today than she ever felt off a fast gallop.
“The thing I love about her, from the second-last to the line, I don’t know if he even had to hit her, it was just hands and heels and she keeps finding a bit.”
Considering future plans, he added: “We’ve got a bit of black type for her now and we might look at something like Chepstow for the Finale Juvenile Hurdle. There’s Leopardstown at Christmas, but I’d say easier ground suits her a bit better.
“I think she has to improve a lot on that form to be a Triumph Hurdle filly, but she knows how to win and when they keep winning, there’s nothing like it.”
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