‘Huge’ heavyweight Hillcrest impresses as Cheltenham opens to win Festival quotes
Henry Daly’s hurdler ridden by Richard Patrick defeated Nicky Henderson’s I Am Maximus in Cheltenham’s first race of the year. L’Homme Presse also won well
The “huge” heavyweight Hillcrest beat I Am Maximus to win Cheltenham’s first race in 2022.
The Henry Daly-trained hurdler was joined by the home turn favorite but fought to win with a bit in hand.
The seven-year-old moved away from his closest rival by two lengths under Richard Patrick.
Coach Henry Daly has revealed that the 3-1 winner is so tall he towers over his measuring equipment – and much heavier than an average racehorse.
“I really don’t know how tall he is,” he said.
“My measuring stick goes to 18 hands and it will not exceed it. It is very tall. It is huge. When it arrived in the yard three years ago, it weighed 693 kg.”
Purchased as a hunter for late owner Trevor Hemmings, the trainer suggested the Grand National reunion might be a more suitable target than the Cheltenham Festival.
Hillcrest is 16-1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle with Paddy Power and Daly added: “I guess generally they (the team) would rather go to Aintree and race there, but honestly I don’t don’t know (regarding the Cheltenham Festival). “
The Press Man (7-4f) led his rivals in a happy dance in the Grade 2 Paddy Power Novices’ Chase.
Charlie Deutsch’s mount made the fencing at Prestbury Park easy and stole the last to come home ten points ahead.
The Gncing Queen chased down the favorite house, as favorite backers celebrated the victory.
Deutsch said: “He got out of my hands at one o’clock, then I gave him a squeeze and he started to get more confident – then he stole the last three.”
Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies have teamed up to participate in the 3rd year Paddy Power New Years’ disability pursuit with the Vienna court (10-1).
Father-son duo Gary and Jamie Moore were also among the winners thanks to the winner of the New Four Eighty Restaurant At Cheltenham Festival Handicap Chase Full Back (9-2jf).