Punjabi lands Fighting Fifth in photo finish
Racing Post - 2008-12-06
PUNJABI stuck to his guns in sterling fashion to deny the sweet-travelling Sublimity in a photo finish to the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Wetherby, writes Andrew Dietz.
With the Nicky Henderson stable in such rampant form, the Punchestown Champion Hurdle hero was sent off at prohibitive odds of 8-11 but, coming to the second-last, Andrew McNamara, deputising for the injured Philip Carberry, looked to hold all the aces aboard Sublimity.
The ex-Flat performer, who was trainer Robbie Hennessy's first ever runner, cruised upsides Punjabi as the pair cleared the final hurdle in tandem.
But under a power-packed Barry Geraghty ride, Punjabi found more on the run-in and hit the line a nose in front of the 2007 Champion Hurdle winner. Blue Bajan trailed home in third in a slowly run race that saw all but Arcalis invovled on the turn for home.
Stan James left Punjabi (14-1), Sublimity (16-1) and Blue Bajan (33-1) unchanged for the Champion Hurdle. Geraghty said "That was a good performance and he'll come on for it. He battled back really well.
"He was third in the Champion last year and he beat Sublimity at Punchestown. He's won again today so I think you'd have to say he is (a genuine Champion Hurdle contender)." Hennessy said: "I'm absolutely over the moon with that. It was almost a fairytale start.
"He will obviously be better on better ground and he will now head to Leopardstown at Christmas for the December Festival Hurdle.
"Punjabi is a serious horse and I think you will see both horses there at the finish in the Champion next year.
"These two set the standard and the younger horses will have to improve."
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