Henderson’s winner in the 22-runner Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle was the 10/1 shot Rather Be, who cruised into the home straight under Jeremiah McGrath, and then clung on in a tight battle after the final hurdle. He won by half a length and the same from Dream Berry (8/1 co-fav) and Geordie Des Champs (10/1), with the Henderson-trained Thomas Campbell (8/1 co-fav) a further nine lengths back in fourth. Sumkindofking was the unplaced other 8/1 co-favourite.
Henderson, who trains Rather Be for Matt and Lauren Morgan, said: “It’s a family we know well [he also trains half-brother Sign Of A Victory] and we’ve had a lot of fun with all of them. He did deserve that, because he was brought down early on at Cheltenham [in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle] – I couldn’t split him and Thomas Campbell at Cheltenham and I couldn’t do it today either.
“They finished first and fourth and for Matt [Morgan] it’s great, because it’s a good consolation prize. It was annoying [to see Rather Be brought down] at the time, but it’s okay today.”
Morgan said: “It’s fantastic to have a winner at Aintree. Things happen for a reason, and we were so disappointed at Cheltenham because we were so confident going there. He didn’t have a race and he was as fresh as paint today and that helped.
“Jerry [McGrath] said that wherever he wanted to put him he could go there, and that’s what you need around here. You need to travel in a race like this.”
1.40pm Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f
1 RATHER BE (Matt & Laura Morgan) Nicky Henderson 6-11-02 Jeremiah McGrath 10/1
2 Dream Berry (J P McManus) Jonjo O’Neill 6-10-13 Barry Geraghty 8/1 Co Fav
3 Geordie Des Champs (J P McManus) Rebecca Curtis 6-10-12 Jonathan Moore (3) 12/1
4 Thomas Campbell (Mrs Van Geest & Mrs Kelvin-Hughes) Nicky Henderson 5-11-05 Nico de Boinville 8/1 Co Fav
8/1 Co Fav – Sumkindofthing
Distances: ½, ½, 9, ¾
Tote Win: £10.10
Places: £2.80, £2.60, £3.50, £2.50