Chantry House continued to live up to his tall reputation with a triumphant return to action in the British EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle Qualifier at Cheltenham.
After a winning debut under rules at Warwick in March, the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-did what was expected of him on his first start over hurdles, defeating recent Ffos Las scorer Stolen Silver by a length and three-quarters.
Henderson said of the 5-6 winner: “He is a very nice young horse, but he just needs educating. As Barry (Geraghty) said, he is still pretty green, as that was only his second run after having one bumper.
“He jumped well, but it was a bit of a messy race and they didn’t go very quick. I think he probably would get further, but we will see how we go.
“It was a good education and we will go do that again somewhere before we think about anything else.”
Owned by JP McManus, Chantry House received quotes of 16-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Sky Bet.
Pym can expect to have his talent tested at a higher level on his next start after completing a double for Henderson with an eight-length success as the 2-1 favourite in the International Decorative Surfaces Novices’ Chase.
Henderson said: “He is learning all the time. He is very honest and straightforward and consequently he is not one you get excited about every day.
“He gets out of bed, does his work and is very uncomplicated and that is what he was the whole way round.
“I’d like to keep it small, but I won’t be allowed into anything handicap-wise. I always like using the Reynoldstown and I was planning to use it last season (with Santini) until the horses were vaccinated the week before.”
Noel Fehily enjoyed some of his greatest moments in the saddle at Cheltenham and the former Champion Hurdle-winning rider made a return to the famous winner’s enclosure after the Fergal O’Brien-trained Goodbye Dancer (13-2) landed the Citipost Handicap Hurdle by a length and three-quarters.
Fehily, who fronts Noel Fehily Racing Syndicate, said: “It is fantastic. We’ve had a bit of a roller coaster ride as Pride Of Lecale won first time out then got injured at Newbury.
“This horse has just come and done the business. For a lot of the lads involved, it was just on the bucket list to have a runner at Cheltenham and this fellow has ticked the box.
He added: “It is very different, as there was more pressure involved then (riding), so I’m enjoying it a bit more now.”
Zara Hope (5-2 favourite) left trainer D J Jeffreys elated as the eight-year-old gave him his first winner at the course when routing her rivals in the CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares’ Handicap Chase.
Jeffreys said: “I don’t think it has really sunk yet. I’m definitely realising a dream. It was a bit unfortunate that the Harry Fry horse fell. I’m shaking. It’s great, what a buzz, as it’s a special place.”
Repetitio (8-1) kept alive the dream of a return to the Cheltenham Festival in March after making the most of his weight allowance to take the Catesby Handicap Hurdle by a neck.
Trainer Nigel Hawke said: “I think he is a Fred Winter horse and to me that would be the logical thing to go for. I think that type of race would suit him down to the ground and that would be the plan.”