Whisper shouts loud and proud

Nicky Henderson -trained Whisper to win
Nicky Henderson -trained Whisper to win
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Whisper beat a huge field to land the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle to give trainer Nicky Henderson his first-winner of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

The French-bred prevailed in one of the most competitive races of the meeting under amateur jockey Nico de Boinville.

The 14-1 winner was followed home by Get Me Out Of Here, Bayan and Smashing.

It was yet another thrilling finish.

Whisper just got the better of the Tony McCoy-ridden runner-up by a short head.

It was yet another second place at Cheltenham for Get Me Out Of Here, who was sporting cheekpieces for the first time.

The winner carries the colours of Dai Walters, who owns Ffos Las racecourse and who has another big chance on Thursday at the meeting with novice chaser Oscar Whisky.

On his last start Whisper had been beaten by just a head in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las.

The handocapper had raised Whisper’s rating by six pounds for that fine run, but it proved no bar to success.

The pace was set by Son Of Flicka, the winner in 2012, and Clondaw Kaempfer, as 28 horses set off for the highly-competitive handicap hurdle.

As to be expected there were many in with chances coming to the final flight, and it was De Boinville, a five-pound clamer noted for his riding of Sprinter Sacre in his work, who had Whisper in the right position to deny Get Me Out Of Here, who has now finished second at four Festivals.

De Boinville, who was riding his first Festival winner, said: “You can never be too sure (in photo-finishes) but I’m over the moon.

“I got a lovely position and he kept going all the way.”

Henderson felt De Boinville’s five pound claim proved crucial.

Andrew Tinkler had ridden the horse in the Welsh champion.

Henderson said: “When you’ve got a very good claimer, then it’s obvious to try and use him.

“We stopped him (De Boinville) riding for a week because I needed his five pound claim this week.

“It looked like Whisper had too much weight. I didn’t think he could win off top weight, but he has.

“He deserves it, because he was beaten a nose in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

“That was really annoying as he also went up six pounds for finishing second.

“If he’d been beaten a nose here then I would have really cried.”

Walters said: “That’s my first Festival winner and I’m lost for words - I’m over the moon.”