Tag Archive for: Bardenstown Lad

Punchestown target for Bardenstown Lad

John McConnell has the Punchestown Festival in mind for Bardenstown Lad following his excellent effort at Cheltenham.

The Grade One Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle could be next on the agenda next month for the seven-year-old, having put in good late work to finished third behind The Nice Guy Friday’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

“He ran a cracker, he just hit a flat spot at the wrong time and flew home,” said McConnell.

“He’ll go to Punchestown now and we might put cheekpieces on him to see if we can iron out that flat spot.”

Bardenstown Lad might be joined by stablemate Mahler Mission, who was seventh in the Albert Bartlett. A Listed three-mile novice hurdle at Perth is also an option for him.

“He ran a cracker as well. He probably wants the ground a little bit easier,” added the County Meath handler.

“He might go to Punchestown or Perth.”

McConnell lining up dual challenge on Albert Bartlett prize

John McConnell is planning a twin assault on the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, with Bardenstown Lad set to be joined by stablemate Mahler Mission.

A winner over three miles at Cheltenham in October, Bardenstown Lad made a successful return from a winter break with an impressive display in the Scottish Stayers’ Hurdle at Musselburgh last weekend.

Mahler Mission, meanwhile, won the Grade Two River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster last month.

McConnell considers both horses realistic contenders for the Albert Bartlett and is happy to let them do battle at the Festival.

He said: “We were delighted with Bardenstown Lad the other day. It was exactly what we wanted as we didn’t want him to have an overly-hard race.

“He was on the go last summer, so we gave him a break with one eye on the Albert Bartlett and brought him back for a prep run.

“We got a nice schooling session into him and Gordon Elliott’s horse that finished second (Where It All Began) is probably not a bad horse either.

Mahler Mission on his way to victory at Doncaster
Mahler Mission on his way to victory at Doncaster (Tim Goode/PA)

“It was a good performance and I don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of him yet – that’s the exciting thing about him.”

Of Mahler Mission, he added: “He’ll go straight for the Albert Bartlett, too. He had a bit of a break and is back in cantering away.

“It’s nice to be going there with two horses that deserve to be there.”

Bardenstown Lad out to book Festival ticket at Musselburgh

Bardenstown Lad is to put his Cheltenham credentials on the line in the bet365 Scottish Stayers’ Novices’ Hurdle at Musselburgh on Saturday.

John McConnell already has Mahler Mission pencilled in for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival following his Grade Two success at Doncaster on Saturday and is hoping Bardenstown Lad can join him on March 18.

The seven-year-old is reported to be in good form ahead of his first appearance since winning a novice event over three miles at Cheltenham in October.

“He’s good. He’s entered in Musselburgh at the weekend and will go there – a three-mile novice hurdle at the festival going on there,” said County Meath-based McConnell.

“He’s in good form and hopefully he’ll go to Cheltenham after that. He’ll go for the Albert Bartlett – he’s a three-miler.”

Gordon Elliott’s Where It All Began, winner of a maiden hurdle at Tramore, is a second Irish possible among the seven entries.

The home defence is led by Martin Keighley’s Brorson and the Donald McCain-trained Silver Flyer, who have both won their last two races.

Last year’s Scottish National hero Mighty Thunder is among 11 entries for the bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase.

The nine-year-old, trained by Lucinda Russell, has to bounce back from being pulled up in the Coral Welsh National on his latest start. Highland Hunter, who was runner-up behind Iwilldoit that day, is among the 11 possibles.

The bet365 Scottish Festival Trials weekend concludes on Sunday when Doctor Parnassus bids to build on his recent hurdles debut success at Ascot.

Dan Skelton’s four-year-old, who holds an entry in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, is one of 10 possibles for the bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle.

McConnell eyeing Musselburgh date for Bardenstown Lad

Bardenstown Lad could return to action at Musselburgh next month after being given a break by trainer John McConnell following his victory at Cheltenham in October.

The County Meath handler is eyeing the Scottish Stayers’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Edinburgh venue on February 5 for his promising seven-year-old.

Bardenstown Lad took his tally to three wins from four starts over the smaller obstacles – and four in six under Rules – when making his stamina tell over three miles at Prestbury Park.

“He had a little break after Cheltenham,” said McConnell.

“He’s back in training now and there’s a good chance he might come over for the Cheltenham Trials weekend.

“I think there’s a stayers’ novice hurdle for him.”

McConnell operates at a healthy 27 per cent strike-rate at the Scottish venue currently.

Bardenstown Lad set to return to Cheltenham

John McConnell’s Cheltenham winner Bardenstown Lad already has a return to Prestbury Park on his agenda.

The six-year-old beat Dragon Bones by a length in Friday’s 888Sport What’s Your Thinking Novices’ Hurdle.

Bardenstown Lad has therefore won four of his six rules starts, and has never been unplaced since taking a bumper at Tipperary by 15 lengths in March.

He posted a British success, on his only previous trip from McConnell’s County Meath base, when a runaway winner of a Cartmel novice hurdle at the end of August.

After he had stayed on gamely to win again at Cheltenham, McConnell said: “We knew the hill would suit him.

“He’s kind of a lazy boy, and it’s a bit hard to know what’s left in him – so it helped him, I suppose, and gave him something to look forward to.

“He’s only ever doing enough.”

Cheltenham’s November meeting may see Bardenstown Lad’s next appearance, as he is prepared for his principal target this season – the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival.

But a winter break is also a possibility, because he has been in work ever since joining McConnell.

“He might have a break next – he hasn’t really had a break since we got him,” he said.

“He hasn’t had that many races, but he’s been in training. He might get a break and come back in the spring – and if he doesn’t he could reappear at the November meeting.

“We’ll see how he comes out of the race first, and take it from there.

“The Albert Bartlett is what we’re looking at, absolutely.”

Bardenstown bags Cheltenham prize for John McConnell

Bardenstown Lad continued his progression with a gutsy success for County Meath-based John McConnell in the 888Sport What’s Your Thinking Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham’s opening meeting of the season.

Following the dominance of the Irish-trained runners at the Cheltenham Festival, their British-based counterparts might have hoped it would take longer than just three races for the Irish to open their account this season.

But McConnell, who won the corresponding race 12 months ago with Streets Of Doyen – who went on to be third in the Albert Bartlett in March – had other ideas.

Bardenstown Lad (85-40 favourite) also sported the same colours as last year’s winner with the only difference being Sean Bowen was roared home this time around by a crowd of over 10,000 as Cheltenham got back to normality.

Bowen said: “That was a good performance. He raced a touch lazy early on but when I gave him a reminder at the top of the hill, to be fair to him he came back on the bridle.

“He winged the last three hurdles and he’s gone and done it well.

“You wouldn’t have a clue how much is under the tank. I was all out on him when he was 1-10 at Cartmel and I thought we were beat halfway round, he’s that type of horse.

“He might need headgear later on, but John is thinking of the Albert Bartlett and you need a really strong stayer in that and this lad is certainly that.”

Strictlyadancer was a poignant winner for trainer Christian Williams
Strictlyadancer was a poignant winner for trainer Christian Williams (David Davies/PA)

Christian Williams poignantly won the Andy Stewart Memorial Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase with Strictlyadancer (7-1).

Williams was due to ride Stewart’s legendary staying hurdler Big Buck’s, who paraded before the race, in a novice chase at Warwick in February 2008 but unfortunately broke his leg in the proceeding race and was replaced by Liam Heard.

“It’s great to win this. I didn’t train one for Andy but him and his family always made a fuss of me when they saw me,” said Williams.

“I was supposed to ride Big Buck’s one day but I broke my leg in five places the race before. I tried to get on him but couldn’t get my leg in the iron, so I had to get taken off him.”

Annual Invictus in full flow
Annual Invictus in full flow (David Davies/PA)

Annual Invictus jumped like an old hand on just his second outing over fences in the 888Sport Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

Tom Cannon set Chris Gordon’s six-year-old alight and the 11-4 chance ate up his fences, gaining ground at each one before staying on strongly to beat Danny Kirwan by three lengths.

Gordon said: “That was lovely, the owners have had a great day and they are now very happy.

“I’m thrilled with the horse, he jumped very well. Obviously it will be harder for him next time and hopefully the way he jumps will stand him in good stead.

“We always thought he’d improve for a fence, he was a decent hurdler but he’d prefer softer ground than it was today.

“If it gets very soft we could run him in one of those graded races, if it is soft we could bring him back to two miles as his jumping would stand him in good stead.”

Guard Your Dreams defied top weight at Cheltenham
Guard Your Dreams defied top weight at Cheltenham (David Davies/PA)

Guard Your Dreams (16-5 favourite) defied top weight in the Abu Dhabi Digital Exchange Handicap Hurdle under a strong ride from Sam Twiston-Davies.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: “That was very good to carry all that weight first time out, but he’s done it nicely.

“Now we’re in a real pickle because we don’t know whether to stay hurdling, because the plan was to go chasing before Sam spotted this race.

“Who knows what we’ll do. He’s probably got a future over hurdles but you’d imagine he’d take quite high-rank over fences. It’s a nice problem to have and he’s very exciting.”

Camprond returns after winning the opener
Camprond returns after winning the opener (David Davies/PA)

Philip Hobbs’ Camprond (1-3 favourite) landed the odds in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, following up his Grade Two win in the Persian War at Chepstow.

However, it was relatively hard work for a while to see off Mars Harper.

“It was half-mentioned we could to take him to Ireland for the Royal Bond because I gather they are still novices until the end of November, so that’s an option – otherwise it will likely be handicaps,” said Hobbs.

“We’ll see what the options are but he got the job done – just!

“He hasn’t jumped fences at home yet and that is an option as well, but not the most obvious at the moment.”