Tag Archive for: Anna Bunina

Anna Bunina bidding to back up Scottish Champion triumph

Anna Bunina will face some familiar rivals in the Grade Three Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.

The John McConnell-trained Irish raider was a one-length winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle when last seen in early April, defeating Dan Skelton’s West Cork in the final strides under jockey Sean Bowen.

She races off a 5lb-higher mark, but her trainer has engaged the services of conditional jockey Mark McDonagh for the six-year-old mare.

“She’s in good form, this has been her target since the Scottish Champion Hurdle,” said McConnell.

“We’ve claimed off her this time just to try to negate the 5lb she went up, it’s going to be a very competitive race for a big prize but we’re hopeful.

“There’s a lot of horses with chances, but she goes there in good form and I think she’ll like the track – we’re hopeful she’ll run a big race.”

West Cork reopposes, as does Neil Mulholland’s Milkwood who was fifth at Ayr and heads to Merseyside as part of a field of 17 runners.

McConnell sends another runner to Haydock from his County Meath stable with Bronson In Blue lining up under 7lb claimer Cian Walsh in the Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle.

McConnell is hopeful he will hold his own based on his prior form over the trip.

“He’s been great stepped up to three miles for us on his last couple of runs, he’ll like the ground and he’ll like the track,” he said.

“Obviously it’s a big step up in class for him, but he’s not without a chance.

“Cian was won on him twice so he knows him well, hopefully he can get a good clear run round and if he’s in touching distance up to the home straight he’ll stay very well.”

William Haggas’ Aldaary leads the field for the Listed Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes, a race in which he will run for the first time since signing off last season with back-to-back Ascot victories.

Both successes came in valuable handicaps, but the four-year-old is now required to step up in grade for a first tilt at Listed level.

Angus Gold, racing manager to owners Shadwell Stud, said: “He’s been in good form this spring, we’ve waited for the ground and we’ve got it now.

Aldaary winning at Leicester
Aldaary winning at Leicester (Tim Goode/PA)

“He went away and worked with (unbeaten miler) Baaeed on Tuesday and seems in good shape.

“They’re all very happy with the horse, he hasn’t run in a stakes race yet but he was mighty impressive in his last two starts so hopefully he’ll be up to making that step up in class – which he’ll need to do.”

Group One-winning sprinter Glen Shiel begins his season in the Pertemps Network Conditions Stakes for trainer Archie Watson and jockey Hollie Doyle.

The chestnut won the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at 16-1 in 2020 and was beaten just a length in the same race when last seen in October.

The eight-year-old is owned by Hambleton Racing, who have another chance in the race in Magical Spirit, trained by Kevin Ryan to finish second in the Listed Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster on his last outing.

Glen Shiel and Hollie Doyle
Glen Shiel and Hollie Doyle (Dan Abraham/PA)

Simon Turner, racing manager for Hambleton Racing, said: “Glen Shiel’s in really good order, he’s gearing up for Royal Ascot and we’re really looking forward to getting him started for the year.

“Magical Spirit has been waiting for some nice ground and this looks a lovely race to kick his season off.

“He’s another horse that hopefully has some nice aspirations for the season ahead.

“They both ended last year with great efforts, they’re two lovely horses and I’m looking forward to getting them both started.”

The two geldings make up a small field of five for the race, with Hugo Palmer’s Brad The Brief, Lawrence Mullaney’s Snazzy Jazzy and Saeed bin Suroor’s Final Song also engaged.

Anna Bunina just champion for McConnell at Ayr

Anna Bunina went one better than 12 months ago when coming with a powerful late run to win the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr.

Second to Milkwood last year, John McConnell’s mare was 13lb better off with that rival this time around.

Victory did not look likely on jumping the last, however, as Sean Bowen’s mount was only third.

Onemorefortheroad had just jumped back into the lead by then, taking over from West Cork who had hit the front seemingly going strongly.

To West Cork’s credit he began to battle back and was getting on top once more only for Bowen to get a real tune out of Anna Bunina (6-1), who sprouted wings to win going away by a length from West Cork.

“She’s got Flat speed and she certainly showed it there,” said McConnell.

“I’m over the moon because she got a really serious injury when she finished second in it last year, she got some birch in a tendon and it was touch and go for a while.

“It’s taken a while for her to get her confidence back. It probably looks like a big plan but it really hasn’t been, it’s probably more luck.

“She’s actually on a decent mark on the Flat, it’s something we’ve never really pursued but she’d have to be competitive off that mark (81).

“We’ll look at all those good handicaps, we might look at the Swinton (Hurdle) at Haydock, it’s a flat, left-handed track which she likes.

“Given what happened last year we’re elated, it’s been a big team effort to get her back.”

Dusart jumps the last
Dusart jumps the last (Jeff Holmes/PA)

The lightly-raced Dusart showed courage to get back up and win the CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase.

Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old, having just the sixth run of his life, briefly came off the bridle going down the back straight as The Golden Rebel quickened the tempo.

Having seen that one off, Sounds Russian then got the better of Dusart at the last – but Nico De Boinville managed to galvanise the 2-1 favourite to win by half a length.

De Boinville said: “He stays all day and loves that trip. He missed the second-last and the last, but when he got a bit squeezed up he loved having a bit of a battle so he did really well.

“He’s still very much a work in progress and is learning. He’ll enjoy a nice summer now and we can look forward to next year.”

Ruth Jefferson was out of luck with Sounds Russian but ended the day on a winning note as Autumn Return (11-4 favourite) won the Golf Inn Prestwick Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Champion jockey-elect Brian Hughes needed to be at his strongest to hold off Magic Wave and it took him to 190 winners for the season as he continues his quest for the magical 200 mark.