Silsol (near side) jumps the last in the lead before grinding out victory
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Wetherby, Saturday
bet365 Hurdle (Registered as The West Yorkshire Hurdle) (Grade 2), 3m, 4yo+
PAUL NICHOLLS’ fine early-season form continued as Silsol stayed on strongest to defeat Native River in a thrilling finish to the West Yorkshire Hurdle, when five of the field had chances approaching the final hurdle.
Silsol was joined by the smooth-travelling The Romford Pele, who looked the likely winner for a long way, and the front-running Native River, who was pushed along by Richard Johnson in a bid to stay in contention.
Yet as The Romford Pele faded and Native River plugged on one-paced, it was 13-2 shot Silsol who kept on best to win under conditional rider Jack Sherwood.
Ballyoptic, who was staying on well a few lengths behind the leaders, appeared to take a false step just after the final flight, causing him to crash to the turf.
Relief was felt all round as the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained favourite, winner of the Silver Trophy three weeks ago, got to his feet shortly after the race.
Of Silsol, Brian Nicholls, father of trainer Paul, said: “I don’t know where he’ll go next, it could be fences or hurdles. We didn’t think that the ground would be soft enough for him today. I thought that Jack rode a really good race on him, he is very underrated.”
Sherwood added: “He’s won the Welsh Champion Hurdle and is a proper horse but he got too high for handicaps. He battled on really well today. He’s a horse who never runs a bad race.”
Native warms up for Hennessy
Native River, who was backed into 5-2 (from 7-1) prior to the off, warmed up for the Hennessy in good style, giving the hurdles plenty of air.
His part-owner Garth Broom said: “I think we’ll probably stay on the chasing route after the Hennessy. Richard says he feels more a natural chaser than a hurdler but he said switching back to the World Hurdle route wouldn’t be impossible. The first aim is still the Hennessy.”
Colin Tizzard’s six-year-old was cut in some quarters for the Hennessy, with Betfair going 8-1 (from 10-1), but he remains a top priced 10-1.
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