Syndicate ownership was placed firmly at the top table yesterday as 7 year-old Marie’s Rock, trained by Nicky Henderson won the 2 1/2 mile Mare’s Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Owned by syndicate members of Middleham Park Racing, she caught Queens Brook up the hill to land the race at a SP of 18-1, although she looked anything but an 18-1 shot as she proved the stronger in the closing stages to win by a length and three quarters.
Indefatigable fell at the second-last flight of hurdles, bringing down Telmesomethinggirl, and there was palpable relief all round when both horses and jockeys were seen to be OK.
With this high drama to contend with it was a cool and decisive ride by Jockey Nico De Boinville who stayed his usual icy self to produce the win. De Boinville said: “She’s such a gutsy mare, the boss has had to be quite patient with her as she didn’t really find her stride last year, she’s just come into her own today, that was fantastic.”
Tim Palin, of the Middleham Park Racing syndicate that owns Maries Rock, said: “I’m thrilled for all these owners and Nicky Henderson, what a genius. She was in the wilderness for 12 months. She was favourite for the mares’ novice, got injured and then we lost her, but he’s a genius. She spent some time off in a field and came in a different horse and then it’s been onwards and upwards.”
“We’ve had a winner here before with Junior in the Kim Muir but this is our first Grade One over jumps, never mind here, and she only cost £35,000.”
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “This is fantastic because we lost her last year, a bit like Epatante, she went walkabout – it’s lovely when they come back. I was very impressed with her when she won at Warwick last time out so I was hopeful, but I knew it would be very competitive.”