Thomas Campbell (4g Yeats-Hora, by Hernando) looked a high-class prospect when winning on his hurdling debut at Cheltenham on Friday for trainer Nicky Henderson.
A 14-length bumper winner at Kelso in May, the Yeats gelding showed great resilience to see off some well-regarded rivals to land the Cheltenham maiden hurdle by two and a quarter lengths from stablemate Khezerabad.
“Thomas Campbell is a very, very likeable character,” said Henderson. “He will learn a lot from today as he had only run in two bumpers before – one at Huntingdon when he got lost for greenness and at Kelso where he won well.
“From Kelso to here is quite a big step. To come off the bend and face the last hurdle with the crowd – I know it’s not The Festival but it’s still quite a daunting place to stare at – I thought he quickened up nicely. He could come back to Cheltenham for The Open in November. ”
Winning rider Nico de Boinville was similarly impressed and added: “He’s a very straightforward horse, he seems to love that hill and like the trip so I should think he’d stick at two miles for now. He seemed to outstay them, which you need to do at Cheltenham, and he might possibly need further in time.
“He’s very flexible and easy to ride and I think he could be okay. The races are never easy around there and it was a good achievement to win a race like that. It’s a good benchmark for the future. He’s taken a bit of time to come to hand, he only won his bumper in May, so that was a decent performance.”
The four-year-old was bred by his joint-owners, Richard and Lizzie Kelvin Hughes.