Darlan’s odds-on win steals the limelight
On the face of it, only one of the novice hurdle winners at Taunton yesterday could be described as breathtaking.
The first, after all, returned at 200-1; and the second, sent off at odds-on, won by only half-a-length. But the manner of Darlan's success was such that he stole the show even from the starting price of Lights Of Broadway.
Barry Geraghty restrained Darlan on the bridle even as Ruby Walsh went into overdrive on Jump City, taking sadistic relish in his compatriot's efforts as he coasted up the run-in with a narrow but unchanging advantage. Darlan had been forced to work much harder to preserve his unbeaten record on his previous start, and this looked a fairly low-key test for a horse with Festival aspirations.
But he is now 14-1 from 20-1 with the sponsors for the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle, despite Geraghty's pointed refusal to get carried away afterwards. “My horse probably made it look easier than he did it,” he said.
With so many other smart novices in the yard, Geraghty's studied caution makes it conceivable that Nicky Henderson may have a big handicap in mind instead.
Sam Waley-Cohen, who rides Long Run for Henderson in the silks of his father, had another frustrating experience on the same card. The amateur is already serving 15 days of suspension after that fiasco at Fakenham last month and has now picked up another three for his use of the whip on Time For Spring. Sensing the chance to ride his first winner of the season, Waley-Cohen gave the eventual runner-up three swift reminders to guarantee a big leap two out, and so earned a ban for not giving his mount adequate time to respond.
As for Lights Of Broadway, trained by Jo Hughes, she had been beaten in heavy ground on her only previous hurdles start.
The last 200-1 winner was Maoi Chinn Tire at Wetherby in October 2010, both surpassed by Equinoctial at 250-1 at Kelso in 1990.