Sir Gino shortens to a hot favourite for Cheltenham Festival after sublime success: ‘A talented individual’

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. Learn more
  • On a day when high-calibre contenders came to the fore at Cheltenham Racecourse’s Festival Trials Day on Saturday (27 January), it was the Nicky Henderson-trained Sir Gino who took top billing as an ominously good Cheltenham Festival contender after a sublime victory.

    National Hunt jockey James Bowen was deputising for an injured Nico de Boinville and simply nudged Marie Donnelly’s four-year-old Sir Gino into top gear with a breathtaking acceleration. They soared 10 lengths clear of the Gredley family’s previously unbeaten hurdler Burdett Road to land the Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle in impressive style.

    French-bred Sir Gino, who was found by Jerry McGrath in France, is now unbeaten in three starts over hurdles and heads the market for the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, on Friday 15 March.

    “He has all the attributes and he shows it to you,” said Nicky Henderson of the son of It’s Gino with whom he hopes to land a record-extending eighth success in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival.

    “This is only the third run of his life, but he knows what he is doing.”

    Sir Gino: “A talented individual”

    Longtime leader Milan Tino finished third behind Harry Cobden on Burdett Road.

    “We were going to find out how good he was today and hopefully we have. He has a lot of scope,” continued Nicky Henderson.

    “He jumped much slicker today than he did at Kempton [last time out], but we have been practising a bit and he has got the hang of it now.”

    Sir Gino in the Cheltenham winner's enclosure

    Sir Gino with connections in the winner’s enclosure. Photograph by Grossick Racing Photography.

    Sir Gino will now head straight to the Cheltenham Festival.

    “He knew what he was doing and you don’t need any more practice,” said the trainer. “He would jump a fence, so you have to look after the future as well as the present. He is a talented individual.”

    Sadly owner Marie Donnelly broke her hand two days before Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day so was unable to attend in person.

    Disappointment in defeat for Burdett Road’s trainer

    James Owen, trainer of the runner-up Burdett Road said it was “disappointing” to get beaten.

    “But that is horseracing,” he said. “I think we have bumped into a very good horse there and it is going to be hard to beat him in the Triumph Hurdle.

    “I was quite pleased with how my horse settled today and he jumped a lot better. He just got a bit keen as there was no pace from halfway, but I’m not making any excuses.

    “He will need to improve a lot to beat Sir Gino,” he added. “But I’m happy enough we still have a good horse. It will be different conditions and there will be more runners and a lot more pace on, so we will give it another go at him.”

    You may also like to read…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...