Cheltenham Festival: Pendra out of the frame on opening day

Pendra and Killala Quay ran on the opening day for Charlie Longsdon
Pendra and Killala Quay ran on the opening day for Charlie Longsdon

Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon saw Pendra finish fifth on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Longsdon had gone close a couple of times at the meeting and Pendra was third in last year’s Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase.

This time the seven-year-old looked to have every chance in the closing stages of the Grade 3 Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase, ridden by champion jockey AP McCoy for owner JP McManus.

Stablemate Azure Fly also lined up in the race and the seven-year-old, partnered by Andrew Tinkler, was prominent on the opening circuit. Pendra was always handy in mid-division under the champion jockey and had moved up to challenge for the lead two out but he lost momentum on landing at the penultimate fence.

That left The Druids Nephew to go on and win the race with Pendra recovering to finish fifth while Azure Fly was pulled up on the final circuit.

The Hull Farm handler said: “Pendra jumped fine and was given every chance but he wasn’t good enough on the day. There are no excuses, the winner won very comfortably.”

Stablemate Killala Quay was also pulled up in the closing race of the day, the listed CHAPS Restaurant Barbados Novices Handicap Chase.