• Racing/
  • Sunnyhillboy Shines In Gloom

Citipost Handicap Hurdle 3m

  • (4yo+, 3m, Class 2, 11 runners)
  • Winner £13,763 2nd £4,066 3rd £2,033 4th £1,016 5th £508 6th £255
  • Going: Good (Cross Country: Good, Good to Firm in places)
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 6m 10.00s
  • Off time: 15:15:27
  • Last Updated: December 13 2013, 17:04 GMT

Sunnyhillboy shone brightly in the Citipost Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Tony McCoy: Another Cheltenham winner with Sunnyhillboy
Tony McCoy: Another Cheltenham winner with Sunnyhillboy

Jonjo O'Neill's veteran is more often thought of as a chaser these days but the 10/1 chance rolled back the years with a gutsy display in the penultimate race on Friday's card.

All market interest had surrounded Southfield Theatre and Paul Nicholls' charge looked to be travelling particularly well having assumed the lead with seven to jump but in common with many of the earlier races on the card, the most potent challenges were those that were to be the latest received.

Making headway as they approached the second last, McCoy bustled him up the rail and over a trip that many would have considered inadequate for him, he was always going to outstay his rivals.

Philip Hobbs sent out the second and third as Return Spring produced a typically gritty effort to stay on dourly past stable companion, So Fine.

  • Wonderful Charm jumps alongside Oscar Whisky in the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase
  • The field are tightly grouped in the Caspian Caviar Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase
  • King Massini leads from Al Alfa
  • King Massini has a clear advantage but had to work hard for victory
  • The Skyfarmer and Lyvius go toe-to-toe
  • Zara Phillips looks pensive before Monbeg Dude's run
  • So too does co-owner Mike Tindall
  • Theatre Guide travelled strongly
  • But couldn't repel the Dude on the run-in
  • The winner now has the Grand National in his sights
  • Winning trainer Michael Scudamore is all smiles
  • Sire Collonges leads the field in the cross-country
  • Shalimar Fromentro, Imperial Circus and Sire Collonges jump the fence spectacularly
  • Sunnyhillboy rolls back the years in the three mile handicap hurdle
  • The bookmakers' boards shine brightly in the gloaming
  • Ballyalton sends some punters home happy in the finale
All of the best images from the opening day of The International

Jonjo O'Neill said of the winner: "It's great to see him back in the winners' enclosure, he's been a brilliant horse for us. He's not the biggest but he jumped brilliantly today over hurdles."

Tony McCoy was full of praise for the ten-year-old and remarked: "It was heartbreaking getting beat in the Grand National so it's nice to get him back to winning ways. I didn't think he ran as bad as where he finished the last day so today I was a bit more aggressive on him, a little bit more positive and it's probably helped him."

The oddsmakers were less convinced with regard to his Grand National chances and the majority left him quoted at 33/1 for the Aintree showpiece.

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