A new benchmark will have to be found to measure the merit and, more importantly, the courage of the top hurdlers in Ireland and Britain. Brave Inca, the horse that has performed that role with remarkable consistency in recent years is out of action for the season with a tendon injury.
The winner of the 2006 Champion Hurdle and placed in two other runnings of the race, including when second to Sublimity this year, Brave Inca has been ruled out by his trainer, Colm Murphy, with the words "I think we just went to the well one too many times".
Murphy is hopeful,however that the nine-year-old, successful in nine Grade One races, will make a full recovery to resume his racing career. "The results of a scan showed there was some damage to his near-fore tendon," the Co. Wexford-based handler said.
"He'll have a controlled programme, going on the horse walker and so forth. It will be a case of restricting him this year. At that level he would have to be 100 per cent to be competitive. He's something else. He owes no one nothing and we owe him everything.
"Hindsight's a wonderful thing and if I had the time again I wouldn't have run him at Punchestown in April [when sixth to Refinement in the Stayers' Hurdle]. It had been such a long, hard season. I have no doubt in my mind he will get three miles and I still believe he can be very competitive at two,"
While one career is temporarily suspended the launch of another is now eagerly awaited by those punters who yesterday backed the unraced Aidan O'Brien-trained William Hogarth to second favouritism for the 2008 Derby with William Hill.
While it would not have required a mountain of money to lodge the Michael Tabor-owned son of High Chaparral on that lofty perch, particularly as Betfair are yet to open a market on the race, the colt does hold all the right big-race entries and the defeats suffered by Henrythenavigator has created a void for those who ike to speculate on which Ballydoyle juvenile will carry the torch for the stable into the winter.
Betfair punters faced a different test of their judgement yesterday: whether to support the Barney Curley-trained runner, Me Fein, in the opener at Lingfield.
The horse had beaten only one of his 39 rivals in three starts, being beaten an aggregate of over 67 lengths. But, stepped up in trip and down in class, the layers played a cautious game when the Betfair market opened. He was offered at 5.4 at that stage. But that proved to be the best available price as he was backed down to 2.02 at one point pre-race before settling at the 2.5 mark at the off.
The unusual aspect of the betting was not the gamble in the win market or his subsequent head-in-chest win – punters have come to expect that – but the drift in the Betfair place market. Me Fein may have returned the 5-4 favourite but on Betfair at the off he was available at a massive 1.74 to be placed, basically an 8-11 chance to finish in the first three. A "normal" 5-4 shot would probably have been a 2-5 place chance in such circumstances.Reuse content