Nicky Henderson has often said his horses are not suited to deep ground, but that was not the case at Newbury on Friday when the veteran On The Blind Side highlighted a 634-1 treble for the Seven Barrows handler.
Henderson got his afternoon off to a flier with The Carpenter, who looks another very smart prospect for the Owners Group.
Off the track for 701 days before winning on his hurdling debut, he followed up 40 days later as the 15-8 favourite in the Bet In-Play On Racing At BetVictor Novices’ Hurdle, pulling 11 lengths clear of Sound And Fury.
While that was something of an armchair ride for Nico de Boinville, he was seen to greater effect on Russian Ruler (100-30) in the BetVictor Gamble Responsibly Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old looked a nice prospect in his bumper days, but had raced rather keenly in recent starts and underwent wind surgery in January.
He was dropped out this time and De Boinville was last to make a move, eventually winning by a cosy four lengths from Arqoob.
One which really put a smile on Henderson’s face, though, was the victory of the 11-year-old On The Blind Side, sent off at 50-1 having been pulled up in both his previous races this season.
Without a win since January 2021, he prevailed by a neck in a thrilling finish.
“It’s been a tremendous afternoon, full of surprises, but it was especially nice to see On The Blind Side win as he must have been verging on retirement,” said Henderson.
“He’s been such a great servant and I fully admit we’d lost him, but we’ve been playing games with him and well done the team at home. We trained him completely differently but he was 50-1 which tells you everything.
“Nico was brilliant on all of them. Russian Ruler, the boys that own him have been brilliant and we’ve have a torrid time with him, so I hope this is a turning point. When he won his bumper I genuinely thought he was my Supreme horse, but he’s been disappointing.”
He added: “It was the same with The Carpenter, I’ve had him a long time but now finally he’s won two and he looks to have a future. I’d imagine they’ll both go novice chasing next season.
“Nico always says our horses won’t go in sticky ground, but this was just wet today and they slopped through it.
“I know of one man who put them all in a treble, he must be stark raving bonkers!”
Henderson headed for a few days away after Cheltenham and given four of his last five runners have won, some connected to the yard have suggested he takes off again.
“The most important thing to say is I’ve been away since Sunday and the team at home have done a brilliant job, clearly,” said Henderson.
“I’ve had Michael Buckley (owner of Constitution Hill) on the phone already asking me to go away the week before Aintree!”
As for Cheltenham, which bar Constitution Hill’s cakewalk consisted of six others making the first four, Henderson said: “All is good since last week, I had a good look round last night and I’m pleased with the way they look.
“We’ve had to correct a few things here and there, but now we can rock and roll on to Aintree. We only had one winner but plenty hit the crossbar and you can’t complain, it happens there.
“We won the one we had to win. Shishkin would have been nice, but it’s onwards and upwards.”
Red Bull Formula One boss Christian Horner and his Spice Girl wife Geri were on hand to see Lift Me Up triumph in their colours in the closing Lengthen The Odds At BetVictor Open Hunters’ Chase.
Trained by Maxine Filby and ridden by James King, Lift Me Up – who shares his name with a 1999 hit for the singer – prevailed by a length on his first start under rules.
Christian Horner told Racing TV: “It was a great performance. It was supposed to be a weekend off for me, but it’s great to see him running so well.
“He’s obviously got a lot of potential, which is exciting to see. He’s a lovely horse so we’re very proud to have him. He’s a gentle giant.
“It’s my first time at Newbury, so to get a winner under rules is wonderful.”