Medinas’ strong ride to put many on notice for Cheltenham’s World Hurdle

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There wasn’t a more heavily-fancied runner on Hennessey Gold Cup day at Newbury than More Of That, who had made an unbeaten start to life as a hurdler and had AP McCoy on board for the meeting’s Long Distance Hurdle.

Two from home it became clear that the confidence in the Jonjo O’Neill-trained six-year-old was misplaced as a first loss in six attempts loomed large.

An eventual tired and distant third, More Of That was beaten 25 lengths by Medinas, who has been installed as a 10/1 shot Cheltenham’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle by the bookmaker.

Given a patient ride by Richard Johnson, Medinas bided his time behind front-runner Cole Harden before striking for home and finding enough to draw clear in the final stages.

It was revenge for the beating Cole Harden gave Alan King’s horse last time out, when winning eight lengths at Wetherby at the start of the month, and made amends for a disappointing Cheltenham appearance in the World Hurdle back in March, which More Of That triumphed in.

The O’Neill gelding remains the 7/2 favourite to retain his crown, trailed by Briar Hill at 6/1 and Beat That at 8s, but the run from Medinas, on testing ground, is sure to have many circling him for festival staking plans.

The big race of the day went to Oliver Sherwood’s Many Clouds, who now holds 16/1-rated Cheltenham Gold Cup hopes next March.

Elsewhere Irving fought off a challenge from Aurore D’Estruval to claim Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth three weeks after a nasty fall at Wincanton and can now be backed at 25/1 to win Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle. The win was Paul Nicholls’ 100th Grade 1 victory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.