Handstands overcomes attritional conditions to land Sidney Banks

Handstands entered the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle picture with a comfortable victory in the Listed Sidney Banks Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon on Thursday.

Trainer BEN PAULING Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Conditions were becoming increasingly attritional at Huntingdon on Thursday afternoon, with heavy rain hitting the Cambridgeshire track throughout the day. The Nicky Henderson-trained Jango Baie was a hot favourite following his success in the Grade 1 Formby Novices' Hurdle, with experience in heavy conditions. Second favourite Handstands, trained by Ben Pauling, was taking a step up in class following back to back victories at Hereford and Newcastle.

As long-time leader Bugise Seagull began to fade entering the final straight, it was the Ben Pauling-trained Handstands who was travelling best of the two market leaders and the unbeaten gelding stayed on well for victory under Harry Cobden, with Jango Baie finished a tired second. 

Pauling said: "He is so raw. Looking at him walking around the paddock against a couple of those I thought Oh God. He looks a shell, and he looks a horse for next season. There is no bottom to him. He lobbed around there very relaxed and when Harry wanted him he came alive. He didn't pick up the bridle for the first two miles. It was really pleasing. 

"I don't think he is short of speed. I was just very pleased. It was job done today and we will see what we do next. 

"I don't think he had to try too hard again. I was genuinely really pleased and I couldn't have been happier. He was a bit careful at the second, but it was a great ride from Harry. He is an exciting horse for the future and we will look at the Baring Bingham now. 

"That shouldn't have taken too much out of him and he has won on good ground and he has won on heavy ground."

Of the second, Henderson said: "James (Bowen) said it was a bit of a stop start sprint. I'm sure he got the trip alright and he stayed on well. He got messed around a bit, but we were giving the winner 5lbs, but I'm not making excuses and well done them. 

"It is always a decent race, and I think it was. I think they are two smart horses. He probably wants all of that trip as he has finished both of his races very strongly. He stayed it out well at Aintree and finished very strong. 

"These are young horses and we have to see who is coping with what. That (Aintree over two and a half miles) would be the obvious place for him."

Paddy Power shortened Handstands from 20/1 to 10/1 for the Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. 

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