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Nicky Henderson's Walking On Air stakes Ballymore claim

Wednesday: Newbury

Nicky Henderson may already have the pick of novice hurdlers this season, but he'll have to make room for one more in his Cheltenham Festival roster after Walking On Air delivered an impressive debut over hurdles. 

The five-year-old cruised to a 13-length success under Nico de Boinville in the 2m½f novice hurdle, with a step up in trip next on the cards after being cut to as short at 10-1 (from 40) for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle in March. 

"This fella is bred to get two-and-a-half miles and Nico said he felt like he'd go there," Henderson said. "That was a good gallop they went and he looked as if he was only just getting going at the end.

"He had some small problems before Christmas, so it's just taken us a bit of time to get ready and get out, and these sort of races are where we need to start."

Watch Walking On Air's hurdles debut at Newbury

Second in his bumper at Kempton to Shallwehaveonemore, who was fourth in the Grade 1 Tolworth, Walking On Air is the first winner for Henderson in the colours of Doreen Tabor, wife of Coolmore partner Michael Tabor. 

The step up in distance will be a welcome choice for Henderson, who will hope to avoid sending another exciting prospect out against stablemates Constitution Hill and Jonbon in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. 

"I'm trying to juggle them," the trainer added. "You'd have to be thinking along the lines of the Ballymore. He's lovely, a solid, mature fella and he looked the part there.  

"He's going to be spectacular when he jumps a fence; he jumped everything the whole way round. He might be very exciting in a year or two."

Syder on the scorecard 

Tim Syder was at Warwick on Saturday to see Eclair Surf win the Classic Chase and things got even better for the owner after claiming a double at Newbury. 

Speech Bubble landed the mares' novice hurdle before Voice Of Calm brushed aside three second-placed efforts this season to win for trainer Emma Lavelle, who supplied Syder with another winner at Plumpton with Young Butler.

"I go racing because I love it and when I should have been revising for my A-levels I was reading the Sporting Life," said Syder, who is enjoying a fine season with his horses and the ones he owns in partnership with pals.

"I've been lucky enough over the last ten or 12 years to be able to afford horses. I've probably got about 20 in training and last season was my best with 21 winners we're getting close to that now. They've been running well, which is great, but we all know it will stop at some stage."

Syder's in-laws might have had something to do with the retired accountant being bitten by the bug and his wife Charlotte added: "When we came back from our honeymoon my parents collected us from Heathrow and my father asked Tim if he wanted a share in a horse, so we've literally owned horses since the day we were married."

McConville delight

The biggest smile at the track belonged to Daire McConville, who enjoyed the sweetest moment of his short career on Storm Patrol in the 2m7½f handicap chase.

"That's my fourth winner," said the 24-year-old County Armagh native, who answered an online advert for a vacancy at Kerry Lee's Herefordshire yard.

"I moved in July and it's been fantastic. My first winner over here was great, but to win at Newbury on a horse like this is sweet."

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