Cannock Park has been handed a big local target by Borders handler Paul Robson after his pleasing third in Aintree’s Formby Novices’ Hurdle on Boxing Day.
Although a winner at Cheltenham on his hurdling bow, it was a bold move by Robson – who combines training his small string with running a funeral directors business – to run the six-year-old in the Christmas Grade One on just his second start over timber.
Cannock Park gave a fine account when attempting to make all in the hands of Craig Nichol and although well held by the front two, he plugged on gamely to make the podium at odds of 40-1.
Despite being pleased with the performance, Robson believes the gap to the front two is too much to bridge at present, with ambitions of running in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle switched for a crack at Kelso’s bet365 Morebattle Hurdle on March 2, where he will seek a famous local victory.
“He’s a lovely horse and he deserved his place in the race at Aintree,” said Robson.
“He was probably a lucky third given the horse that fell, but at the same time, I would say all roads don’t lead to the Supreme. I feel he is not quite that level.
“He’s going to be a lovely, lovely horse and we might look at the Morebattle at Kelso in early March, but we won’t be going to Cheltenham.
“The Morebattle is worth a lot of money and he needs two more runs to qualify, so he is going to have to be busy between now and then.
“He will probably go to Kelso on the 14th, there is just a normal class four novice and he will obviously have a penalty. If he runs there, then we will probably run him in a handicap three or four weeks after that in preparation for the Morebattle.”
A return to Aintree for further Grade One action in the spring is a possibility granted a decent performance in his Kelso target, but Robson is already looking forward to next season where he envisages Cannock Park making his mark over the larger obstacles.
“I imagine that is what he will do and if he runs a blinder in the Morebattle, we can go back to Aintree and if he doesn’t, he can have a break and come back as a novice chaser,” said Robson.
“I’ve never been too fussed about him being too quick over his hurdles as I’ve been trying to teach him to jump correctly. We’ve always wanted him to be a chaser, we know he is going to be a chaser and we hope he is going to be a high-class two-miler. That’s what I think his forte will be.”
Cannock Park is by far the best horse to pass through Robson’s hands and although initially disappointed his first foray into Grade One company ended in defeat, the handler is now delighted to be flying the flag for the Scottish Borders with his promising inmate.
Robson added: “We were utterly thrilled and I think the fact we have never been in races like that before, I was kind of gutted finishing third, but when you come away and start looking at it, you get an understanding of what we have just achieved, which is massive.
“We’re delighted and proud of the horse and just very excited. Every trainer I have bumped into when racing since has been chuffed for the horse and for me which is lovely, and they obviously have a lot more experience than me and are delighted there is a nice horse in the north which is super.”
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