Pentland Hills enjoyed an outstanding first season in the National Hunt, winning all three of his races to make a statement to the rest of the field. The four-year-old entered Nicky Henderson’s yard after making the switch to jumps over the flat, and he proved that the change was correct as he made a seamless transition by making a flawless start to his new career.
The bay gelding now has the challenge to prove that his performances were not a flash in the pan as he competes in his second season. Pentland Hills has been put forward for the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November. Henderson’s horse is one of the leading contenders in the horse racing betting tips at 14/1 to win the race, although there will be fierce competition from Fusil Raffles, Al Dancer and Elixir De Nutz. It will take a complete display from the four-year-old to capture further glory in his fledgling jumps career.
Pentland Hills only made the change to jumps as the beginning of 2019. He had competed in the flat, but had only secured two victories in his 11 races. It prompted a change in ownership to the Owners Group 031 syndicate and they opted to move him into Henderson’s yard. He made his bow with Nico de Boinville in the saddle in his maiden hurdle at Plumpton. Despite his inexperience he was named the favourite by the bookies and duly delivered on those expectations with a dominant performance, finishing 14 lengths ahead of his nearest rival The Flying Sofa, to take the victory.
After just one race Henderson sent his charge to Cheltenham Festival for the JCB Triumph Hurdle. He was an outsider for the crown at 20/1, but once again he had De Boinville at the reins. Pentland Hills overcame an early mistake at the first hurdle to take charge into the latter stages of the race. He had the pace down the stretch when it mattered the most to pull clear of Coeur Sublime to claim the win by three lengths and earning his place in the Cheltenham winners’ circle.
His last appearance of the campaign came in the Doom Bar Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree, although on this occasion he faced elite competition in the form of Fakir D’Oudiairies. De Boinville guided his charge to a steady start to the contest before he was able to up the ante. He moved into the lead down the final furlong but the presence of Fakir D’Oudiairies was there all the way to the line. Pentland Hills just had the pace to close out the triumph by a neck to secure his third win on the bounce.
Henderson’s charge has won races in different circumstances and against top challengers in his first season. He now has the test of building on his success in his second campaign beginning at the Greatwood Hurdle. A victory there will put down a marker for the rest of the season to his rivals that he is ready to dominate once again.