Promising Gentle Slopes suffers season-ending setback

Milton Harris has been dealt another injury blow as promising hurdler Gentle Slopes has been ruled out for the season.

Having already seen last season’s Grade One-winning juvenile hurdler Knight Salute sidelined, it is a bitter blow to the Warminster yard, as Gentle Slopes had shown plenty of promise in winning a competitive Cheltenham bumper in November.

A £90,000 purchase on the back of a point-to-point win, the Anwar Badri-owned Gentle Slopes won in good style on his Sedgefield debut, before being held by Encanto Bruno at Cheltenham on his second start.

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His four-length success over School Days Over on his return to Prestbury Park brought forth quotes for the Champion Bumper.

Switched to hurdling for his next run, he was a beaten favourite when third to Attacca in a Cheltenham novices’ heat last month, but was well supported to bounce back in the Ballymore Maiden Hurdle when upped to an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham on Sunday.

However, having travelled well to the home turn, he dropped away tamely under Sean Bowen and was beaten over 27 lengths by Weveallbeencaught.

Harris revealed: “Gentle Slopes is out for the season. That’s the nature of racing.

Milton Harris will step Twinjets up in class for his next run
Milton Harris will step Twinjets up in class for his next run (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I thought something was wrong, as he dropped out. He just picked up an injury, but he’s gone for the year.”

The yard gained some compensation with a Plumpton double on Monday, with Harry Cobden partnering both Twinjets and El Muchacho and to success.

Twinjets, who took an extended two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle to supplement his earlier Leicester success, will now move to deeper waters.

Harris said: “He has a double penalty now, so he will have to go up in grade.

“I’m tempted to go for the two-mile-five-furlong Graded race at Warwick (Grade Two Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, January 14) or there’s the (Grade Two) Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Cheltenham Trials day on January 28 – nothing dramatic, but he’s good.

“He’s a galloper and is improving. Gentle Slopes is a bit better, though, so it is a shame he is gone for the year.”

With Knight Salute also sidelined, the yard will rely on Scriptwriter to provide star quality in the coming months.

The Mark and Maria Adams-owned four-year-old is Britain’s leading Triumph Hurdle hope after supplementing his two hurdle wins with another success, in a mile-and-a-half all-weather Flat handicap at Wolverhampton on Friday evening.

Having taken his tally to three wins since being bought out of Aidan O’Brien’s yard, he is now set to have at least one more spin before the Festival meeting in March.

Harris said: “Scriptwriter is due to go to Cheltenham for the Trials Day on January 28 and if that doesn’t happen, due to ground conditions or whatever, he’ll go to the Adonis at Kempton.”

In the longer term, Harris could return to the Flat with the 62,000 guineas purchase.

He added: “He’s a good horse and he’s pretty unexposed on the Flat. We’ll protect his handicap mark as much as possible, but you couldn’t rule out something like the Ebor with him next season.”

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