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Racing: Happy camper

A week laced with sadness for owner JP McManus, trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Tony McCoy ended with a fortifying boost for each of them as My Tent Or Yours took Newbury's Betfair Hurdle with an ease rarely witnessed in a major handicap.

Ruby Walsh on Silviniaco Conti clears the last to win the Denman Chase   Photograph: Getty
Ruby Walsh on Silviniaco Conti clears the last to win the Denman Chase Photograph: Getty

The team had been dealt crushing news on Monday when their Champion Hurdle hope Darlan, by coincidence a faller when looking the winner of this race 12 months ago, died at the final flight of a trial at Doncaster.

So impressive was the performance of the novice My Tent Or Yours, who carried the hopes of many as 5-1 favourite before cruising five lengths clear of Cotton Mill, that speculation abounded he could be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle itself.

The six-year-old, purchased by McManus for this season on the suggestion of his retained jockey McCoy, only had three starts in minor novice hurdles to his name but could be picked out as the obvious winner from some way out as he crept along the inside rail.

"He could quicken up in that ground, but I've always thought the better the ground, the better he would be," said Henderson.

The trainer, when asked about the prospects of My Tent Or Yours heading for the Champion, said: "I hadn't thought about it. He's in the Supreme and that would be the obvious one. I know JP has Jezki in the race, but it all comes down to JP."

McManus' fine racemare Like-A-Butterfly succumbed to colic this week and he had also received news of his promising novice Ned Buntline being ruled out for the season.

"To lose one as we did – Darlan should have won this last year – but to find another one who looks as if he has the potential to go to the top is a big, big boost," said Henderson. "It has been a difficult week and we've had to rally the troops and pick ourselves up. Nobody loves his horses more than JP, and AP was absolutely shattered."

McCoy, who had driven from Warwick, where he had ridden a winner earlier in the afternoon, said: "To win a handicap off 149 is a good performance. I've never had a horse pull as hard as him the first day I rode him."

Meanwhile, Silviniaco Conti heads to the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup unbeaten this season after passing a fairly gruelling examination in the Denman Chase.

Paul Nicholls' main challenger for next month's elite prize eventually beat last year's Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster by seven lengths. That was despite carrying 4lb more than his rival, although Ruby Walsh had to ask the 8-11 favourite – who is expected to improve from winning his first outing since November – a few questions on trying ground after hanging on to him for as long as possible.

The meeting's other big race, The Betfair Super Saturday Chase, produced a thrilling finish, if scant evidence to unsettle Sprinter Sacre at the head of the market for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Wishfull Thinking (4-1) edged it from the clutches of French Opera.

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