Sir Gino produced a startling display to burst the Burdett Road bubble in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Nicky Henderson’s imposing youngster had impressed many on his hurdling debut at Kempton but he faced a different calibre of opponent this time in Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road.
James Owen’s charge had shown a liking for hurdles in two previous wins over obstacles and Harry Cobden was eager to anchor him at the back of the pack as his mount was keen on his first run since November.
The big two closed in on long-time leader Milan Tino turning into the straight and while Burdett Road was still travelling strongly, when James Bowen asked Sir Gino to quicken he took two lengths out of his main rival.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the race, however, was after the last when the 5-4 chance sprinted 10 lengths clear of the 6-5 favourite.
Sir Gino is now Betfair’s 6-4 favourite for the Triumph Hurdle from 9-2.
“He’s very good and has always sort of told us that,” said Henderson.
“That was impressive and in which case he is pretty smart and is a very talented individual – he always has been since the day we started with him. Jerry McGrath found him in France for Joe and Marie (Donnelly).
“I think he learnt a lot at Kempton, he was a bit novicey and he was very green when he hit the front at Kempton, but knew exactly what he needed to do today. James said he gave him one ‘let’s go’ and the acceleration was considerable.
“He jumped much slicker today than Kempton and we’ve been practising a bit. He’s got the hang of it now.
“I think we’ve all been quite bullish but rather reluctant to say too much in case we end up with egg on our face, which you invariably do, but he’s good.
“He’s got all the attributes and shows it to you, we were just going to find out today and I think we have.
“He’s got scope and we’ve got to go through the motions, he’s a four-year-old, but he knows his job.
“We always said we would come here and at the time I think we thought Burdett Road might go elsewhere. I think he just comes straight back (for the Triumph Hurdle) now.
“I don’t think he needs any more practice. He would jump a fence, so you have got to look after the future as well as the present.”
Owen is still planning to head to the Festival with Burdett Road, although he admits his charge will have to take a leap forward if he is to trouble Sir Gino in a rematch.
He said: “It is disappointing to get beaten but that is horseracing. I think we have bumped into a very good horse there and it is going to be hard to beat him in the Triumph Hurdle.
“I was quite pleased with how my horse settled today, and he jumped a lot better. He just got a bit keen as there was no pace from halfway, but I’m not making any excuses.
“He will need to improve a lot to beat Sir Gino, but I’m happy enough we still have got a good horse.
“It will be different conditions (in the Triumph), there will be more runners and there will be a lot more pace on, so we will give it another go at him.”
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