Close Brothers Mares Hurdle (Grade 1)
A GOOD day for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville got even better as Marie’s Rock became a rare home-trained winner of this race as the 18/1 shot came with a late charge to upstage Queens Brook.
Only the third English mare to win this race since its inception in 2006, Marie’s Rock had enjoyed a reasonably productive season with two wins to her name, but she took things to a new level to down a potent looking Irish challenge.
For Queens Brook the race went perfectly and the stage looked set for her when she moved to head of the field off the last bend.
Poised in her slipstream though was Marie’s Rock and the seven-year-old daughter of Milan pounced on the run-in to move on. Queens Brook did not lie down once passed but Marie’s Rock was just too strong and she carried the day by one and three-quarter lengths.
Last year’s Pertemps Final heroine Mrs Milner ran a superb race to lie the same distance back in third, a place in front of the favourite Stormy Ireland.
“She was virtually coming into the Dawn Run the other year as favourite but she got injured and couldn’t run, which was seriously disappointing. She came back last year and we’d just lost her completely and all you can do is just sit still and wait,” declared Henderson.
“The owners have been very patient when things were going badly last year, but we always knew she was a good filly.
First time out this year she looked as though she was back and she was very good at Warwick the last time. All credit has to go to Middleham Park, it’s a great operation and I’m full of nothing but admiration for them. They’ve a lot of horses and put in a lot of hard work so they deserve it.”