Grade 1 Festival Glory
WINNER 21 OF 2022: MARIE'S ROCK, trained by Nicky Henderson OBE and ridden by Nico de Boinville: 'The GRADE 1 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle') over 2m 4f at The Cheltenham Festival.
We have been lucky enough to have already notched up 20 winners this year and when writing the post race stories, there are notions of celebration, excitement, gratitude and happy moments to remember.
Today, those notions are here again, but multiplied, now that what happened yesterday, on the first day of 'The Festival' is sinking in. I think it is fair to say that the Middleham Park Racing 'family' (and by that I mean the founding Palin family, our team and all our owners) are just in awe of owning a Grade 1 winner on the biggest National Hunt stage of them all, the hallowed ground of The Cheltenham Festival.
All because of a 7 year old mare by Milan, who we purchased for €35,000 from the Goffs Landrover Sale in 2018. She has her quirks, but her latent talent shone through after the final hurdle, up the famous final hill. She is now a dual Listed winner and a Grade 1 winner. That is a pedigree page to be proud of and thank you to Weatherbys for her updated page, which can be seen in the gallery.
Watch the full race replay here: https://www.racingtv.com/videos/watch/horse_racing_replays/372037-close-brothers-mares-hurdle-david-nicholson-grade-1-1
Timeform rated it as a 147+ performance, saying: "Is only now fulfilling the huge promise she showed as a novice and progressed again as she overcame the rise in the grade, her trademark turn of foot once again proving a potent weapon in a race that hadn't been strongly run, good value for her win even if she did avoid the mishaps that befell others; settled in mid-field towards the inside, she made smooth progress to track the leaders 2 out, chased down the winner at the last and shrugged off a bump from that rival to surge ahead in the final 100 yds, well on top at the line.”
Here's Nicky giving his post race interview to Lydia Hyslop:
Here's Nico's Racing TV interview:
Syndicate manager Tom says: "The first line of my review to her owners this morning, was: 'You own a Cheltenham Festival, Grade 1 winning Mare. Let that sink in. It really did happen. It all panned out perfectly, we got the luck when we needed it and she’s finally been able to show what she can do when it’s all put together and boy isn’t that good. The hood and the pre-race plan seemed to work as she didn’t get too flighty or sweaty beforehand. Nico buried her in the pack as was the plan and got her pretty switched off on the rail, always going 'the bravemans' route. Her jumping was absolutely electric, she didn’t miss a single beat and Nico positioned her perfectly, waking her up at just the right time. She winged the last, came upsides Queens Brook, took a side swipe from her and then said “yeah nice one, see you later”!
A really, really special day for everyone, made that bit more so, given the disappointment of missing the festival 2 years ago. I must thank Cheltenham for looking after us so well and going above and beyond to ensure we could get as many owners and their guests there yesterday. The best news of all is that she’s perfectly fine this morning. Very well done to her owners and thank you to Nicky and Nico for making our dreams come true.”
Read the related story by The Racing Post, here: https://www.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-reports/maries-rock-shocks-the-irish-raiders-to-triumph-for-in-form-nicky-henderson/540018
Read the Sky Sports Racing write up, here: https://www.skysports.com/racing/news/12426/12566975/maries-rock-floors-irish-team-in-mares-hurdle-at-cheltenham
A very very special day for us as a syndicate, giving us our 4th highest level win after the three Group 1 winners on the flat. Days like yesterday will live with us forever more and the faces and reactions from her owners in the winners enclosure are why we are in the racehorse syndication business.
These cheers say it all!
This is a sport that is all about winners and Marie's Rock gave us not only winner 1,301 in our history, but our 50th Listed, Group or Graded winner.
Next Saturday is our annual owners box at Doncaster for the launch of the flat season on Lincoln Day. That day, March 26th is the actual birthday of Marie's Rock.
There will be more champagne.