Adam Nicol has his eye on a valuable prize at his local track with stable flag-bearer Wise Eagle.
The chestnut has been a model of consistency since joining Nicol’s newly-established yard, providing him with his first ever winner as a trainer at Newcastle in January last year and going on to win seven more races.
Only finishing out of the top two twice in 13 runs for his new connections, the Free Eagle gelding has plied his trade successfully both on turf and the all-weather.
Beginning the current campaign with a fourth-placed run on Newcastle’s Tapeta surface, the five-year-old was victorious at the same track on Thursday afternoon when taking the Read Katie Walsh On Betway Insider Handicap by a neck.
Nicol – who enjoyed a famous partnership with the hugely popular mare Lady Buttons in his riding days – now has All-Weather Championships Finals Day, again at Newcastle, in mind for the horse, who will need to run once more on an artificial surface to gain eligibility.
“He ran a blinder first time out and today there was a drop in pace, but he’s done it quite cosily in the end,” he said.
“It’s only his second run of the season and we’d run him 16 days ago, he’s come on for the run.
“I’ve got to get another run into him so he might go to Southwell or Wolverhampton, as you either have to win a qualifier or you have to have three all-weather runs this season to qualify.”
Nicol is based is Seahouses, by the North Northumberland coast, as are the Seahouses Syndicate that own Wise Eagle and count Newcastle as their local track.
“We’re local and they’re local lads that own him, it’s only 45 minutes down the road, so when I heard they were bringing the all-weather championships to Newcastle I thought ‘well this lad’s won twice over two miles round Newcastle, let’s try to get him qualified’,” he said.
“It’s great prize-money to have a go at and I never thought I’d get to this point with him. I thought I might not have a horse for a long time that was good enough to run in that type of race, so we might as well give it a go.”
The valuable finals day meeting on Good Friday is the immediate aim, but beyond that connections have an eye on the revered Northumberland Plate Handicap run on the same track in summer.
“Thinking a bit ahead, the lads are joking and mentioning the Northumberland Plate, but the way he’s going he might be able to get an entry and sneak in off the low 90s,” said Nicol.
“He’s won off 87 today, I’d imagine he’s going to go up to 90 or 91, last year bottom-weight was 93 in the Northumberland Plate so it could be touch and go, but the main aim is the all-weather finals on Good Friday.”
Wise Eagle is a stable star for Nicol’s yard and he credits Tom Clover, the horse’s previous handler, for identifying that he would benefit from a more varied workload.
He said: “He was my first winner, he’s won seven for me now, he’s been second four times and he’s only been out of the first two twice in 13 runs.
“He doesn’t do a lot in front but he always does just enough!
“Credit to Tom Clover who used to train him, we got him cheap for 7,000 guineas in October 2020 in Newmarket.
“He said the horse just needs a change of scenery and that he was a little bit sick of Newmarket gallops.
“We’ve taken him on the beach, we’ve installed a furlong and a half sand ring gallop with Wexford sand, which is great for their stamina.
“We try to swap it up, we do our fast work on Rose Dobbin’s gallops, she’s a few minutes up the road and we’re very grateful that she lets us do it.
“He loves it, this lad’s past three days have all been different prior to running here, he just loves life. I couldn’t have asked for a better horse to start me off.”