Fitzgerald brings home hefty treble
Nicky Henderson struck with each of the three runners to leave his Seven Barrows yard yesterday as he and stable jockey Mick Fitzgerald helped themselves to a 98 to 1 treble here. "A nice day at the office, as they say," commented the Lambourn trainer after victories by Camera Man, Get Real and Serenus gave him nine winners during the last fortnight and his 16th of the season in all.
Henderson completed his trio when Serenus, who finished 14th of 28 to Commanche Court in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on his final start of last term, made a winning return in the Woolley Handicap Hurdle.
Although the trainer had already saddled a double, punters allowed Serenus, who had also been gelded over the summer, to drift from an opening 5 to 1 to 10 to 1.
But the belief that lack of fitness would prove his undoing proved unfounded as Serenus led from the fifth and held off the challenge of Namoodaj by a couple of lengths on the run-in.
"He has been gelded in the summer and has had a good long rest," said Henderson. "He's a lovely little horse and was a little weak - it would take two of him to make a Get Real."
Get Real, a brown gelding of impressive stature, kept his unbeaten record over fences intact in the Sir Peter Crossman Novices' Chase.
The six-year-old, who had beaten Royal Event by 11 lengths at Ludlow on his debut over fences, met that rival on the same terms and made most of the running and fiddled the final three fences for a three-length victory to justify 1 to 2 favouritism.
"He just needs to keep learning, but he is doing everything right," said Henderson. "He is such a big boy, it is a long way from brain to foot!"
Camera Man had given Henderson and Fitzgerald their first success of the day in the Hugh Rosselli Memorial Maiden Chase, challenging at the second-last and coming home three lengths to the good of Majors Legacy at 5 to 1.
Unlike Henderson, Paul Webber could scarcely be described as a man in form.
He had gone 50 days without a win before Road Racer, a first-flight faller on his hurdling debut at Windsor five days ago, ended the drought in the aptly-named Robert Baker Half Century Novices' Hurdle.
In addition to backing Get Real, supporters of odds-on favourites would also have collected on The Taoiseach, 8 to 11 winner of the Barham Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase.
But they came unstuck in the concluding Weatherbys "Stars Of Tomorrow" National Hunt Flat Race, in which Jenny Pitman's 11 to 1 shot Smith's Perk proved three-quarters of a length too strong for 4 to 6 favourite Conchobor.