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Iberico Lord outbattles Betfair rivals at Newbury

In a field of 21, the bay was an 11-2 chance to give Henderson a sixth victory in the race and land himself another big handicap after taking the Greatwood in November.

Under a neat ride from De Boinville, the six-year-old was always handy and was one of a handful in contention over the final flight.

He landed marginally behind 28-1 shot L’Eau Du Sud but battled all the way to the line to score by an eventual two and a quarter lengths. Go Dante took third with Henderson’s other runner Doddiethegreat coming home fourth.

Henderson was full of praise for his jockey, who had earlier steered Shishkin to Denman Chase success.

He said: “I think you have to say that is a pretty masterful ride in a race like that which is ultra-competitive and run at a ferocious speed.

“I thought he had no chance and AP (McCoy) kept saying ‘they are going too quick, they are going too quick’. If they were (going too quick) we had a chance, but if they weren’t we had no chance.

“Nico got it absolutely to the button right, he’s gone a proper brave route down the inner and saved every inch. It was very brave. Doddiethegreat has done the same thing and ran a great race – he will want two and a half.

“I had given up on Iberico Lord at half time and he still had a lot to do two out. But then that little white cap appeared and he was motoring then.”

Iberico Lord had disappointed in a race at Ascot before Christmas, but having been given a clean bill of health and no reason discovered for that underwhelming display, he bounced back in style to pick up his second big hurdles pot of the campaign.

“I don’t know what happened at Ascot and I can’t blame the ground. We got lucky that Luccia was in there to pick up Iberico’s bits,” continued Henderson.

“I said to Nico last weekend when he was off, ‘why don’t you have a little think what you would like to ride in the Betfair’ and he said as long as it is soft it will be Iberico Lord – which was a brave thing to say after the last run. He was convinced.

“He isn’t in anything yet at Cheltenham and the handicaps haven’t closed yet. He doesn’t look like he needs two and a half yet, but you never know.”

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