Tag Archive for: Burdett Road

James Owen eyeing Flat return for Burdett Road

Burdett Road could make a brief return to the Flat this autumn after injury denied him a shot at the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The four-year-old was a Royal Ascot winner when trained on the level by Michael Bell and became a leading Cheltenham Festival contender after making a smooth transition to hurdling.

An impressive victory at Prestbury Park in November saw him installed as Triumph Hurdle favourite and although Sir Gino usurped him in that particular market when lowering Burdett Road’s colours on Festival Trials day, connections were still targeting a run in the juvenile Grade One at the Festival.

Burdett Road scoring on the Flat at Royal Ascot
Burdett Road scoring on the Flat at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

However, a setback meant he was ruled out of the showpiece meeting and trainer James Owen is considering options on the Flat before he jumps obstacles again later in the year.

“He’s fine and he will probably start exercising again in the next week or two,” said Owen.

“He won’t jump again this season and I suspect he will have a little break now and then maybe have a look at the Flat.

“He hasn’t had a proper break, so we might just give him a proper break and then pick out a couple of races in the autumn. He will go hurdling again next season, what will we aim him at? I suppose maybe the Greatwood, but we haven’t really thought about it at this stage.

“It was just a small injury to the foot that came at the wrong time. We were gutted about it, but with the ground the way it is, things happen for a reason. He doesn’t know he’s had a problem and he’s absolutely fine now.”

In Burdett Road’s immediate absence, Newmarket-based Owen has Sweet Fantasy to look forward to after the exciting mare took her hurdles record to two from two with a wide-margin romp at Catterick recently.

Owned, like Burdett Road, by the Gredley Family, she skipped 17 lengths clear of Irish raider Lily Du Berlais at the North Yorkshire track and her handler believes she has a big future ahead of her.

“I was going to enter her in the Mares’ Novices’ at Cheltenham but I pulled her out in the end,” continued Owen.

“She went to Catterick to qualify for the (Herring Queen Series) final (at Kelso) and she will probably run in the final. I will put her in at Aintree just in case, but the final is £100,000 and I want to keep her amongst her own sex if I can – she’s nice.

“We will probably run her on the Flat then and she’s probably still got some work to do on the Flat – she’s a nice filly. I’m excited for next year as she’s a big, raw filly.”



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Setback scuppers Burdett Road’s Triumph Hurdle challenge

James Owen’s Triumph Hurdle hope Burdett Road has been ruled out of the contest by an injury that will sideline him for the remainder of the season.

The four-year-old was formerly trained by Michael Bell on the Flat, winning the Golden Gates Stakes at Royal Ascot last season and reaching a peak rating of 101 after a third-placed finish in the Winter Hill.

He was then gelded and turned his attention to hurdling for Owen, winning his debut by 12 lengths at Huntingdon before claiming a Cheltenham Grade Two next time out.

Burdett Road returned to the same track last month to contest the Triumph Trial and was this time beaten by Nicky Henderson’s very highly-regarded Sir Gino, though connections were still keen to let him take his chance in the main event come March.

That plan has now been scuppered by injury, meaning the horse will not only miss the Cheltenham Festival but will also sit out the rest of the season.

Owen confirmed the news via X, saying: “Burdett Road has unfortunately picked up a setback and will miss the remainder of the season.”



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Burdett Road remains Triumph-bound despite Cheltenham reverse

A tilt at the JCB Triumph Hurdle remains on Burdett Road’s agenda despite his defeat at Cheltenham on Saturday.

A winner at Royal Ascot in the summer for Michael Bell and the Gredley family, the four-year-old confirmed himself a top-class jumping recruit in winning his first two starts over hurdles at Huntingdon.

The son of Muhaarar was a marginal favourite to complete his hat-trick in Saturday’s Grade Two Triumph Hurdle Trial, but on the day he proved no match for Nicky Henderson’s Sir Gino, who rocketed 10 lengths clear and is now as short as evens for the juvenile championship at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Trainer James Owen acknowledges Burdett Road will have his work cut out in his bid to turn the tables on Sir Gino, but he is nevertheless happy to roll the dice.

“We bumped into a very good horse and the positive we can take from it is that we jumped better and he’s come out of it fine,” said the Newmarket handler.

“I think drier ground will help us. We’ve got to improve to bridge that gap, but he’ll have an easy week and he’ll be trained for the Triumph Hurdle – all systems go, basically.”

Owen is optimistic his charge can make more of a race of it in March, adding: “We were pleased in quite a few ways on Saturday as he jumped better and settled better, albeit he got keen at the top of the hill when they seemed to slow the race down.

“He was there at the right time to win the race and we were outclassed on the day, but he’s been beaten before on the Flat, he’s a hardy horse and he would have learnt more again.

“Drier ground, a bit of spring weather, I’m hoping a few things will help us bridge the gap. There were no excuses on our behalf though, we were beaten by a very good horse.

“I’m happy with my horse and not disappointed. There was a lot of hype and press about him before Saturday, which was great, but the pressure is off me a bit now and hopefully we can get a trouble-free run and get to Cheltenham in good health and hopefully he’ll run very well.”



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Sir Gino too good for Burdett Road in Triumph Trial

Sir Gino produced a startling display to burst the Burdett Road bubble in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Nicky Henderson’s imposing youngster had impressed many on his hurdling debut at Kempton but he faced a different calibre of opponent this time in Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road.

James Owen’s charge had shown a liking for hurdles in two previous wins over obstacles and Harry Cobden was eager to anchor him at the back of the pack as his mount was keen on his first run since November.

The big two closed in on long-time leader Milan Tino turning into the straight and while Burdett Road was still travelling strongly, when James Bowen asked Sir Gino to quicken he took two lengths out of his main rival.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the race, however, was after the last when the 5-4 chance sprinted 10 lengths clear of the 6-5 favourite.

Sir Gino is now Betfair’s 6-4 favourite for the Triumph Hurdle from 9-2.

“He’s very good and has always sort of told us that,” said Henderson.

“That was impressive and in which case he is pretty smart and is a very talented individual – he always has been since the day we started with him. Jerry McGrath found him in France for Joe and Marie (Donnelly).

Sir Gino with jockey James Bowen and trainer Nicky Henderson after winning the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle
Sir Gino with jockey James Bowen and trainer Nicky Henderson after winning the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Nigel French/PA)

“I think he learnt a lot at Kempton, he was a bit novicey and he was very green when he hit the front at Kempton, but knew exactly what he needed to do today. James said he gave him one ‘let’s go’ and the acceleration was considerable.

“He jumped much slicker today than Kempton and we’ve been practising a bit. He’s got the hang of it now.

“I think we’ve all been quite bullish but rather reluctant to say too much in case we end up with egg on our face, which you invariably do, but he’s good.

“He’s got all the attributes and shows it to you, we were just going to find out today and I think we have.

“He’s got scope and we’ve got to go through the motions, he’s a four-year-old, but he knows his job.

“We always said we would come here and at the time I think we thought Burdett Road might go elsewhere. I think he just comes straight back (for the Triumph Hurdle) now.

“I don’t think he needs any more practice. He would jump a fence, so you have got to look after the future as well as the present.”

Burdett Road is still a likely Triumph runner despite his Cheltenham eclipse
Burdett Road is still a likely Triumph runner despite his Cheltenham eclipse (Nigel French/PA)

Owen is still planning to head to the Festival with Burdett Road, although he admits his charge will have to take a leap forward if he is to trouble Sir Gino in a rematch.

He said: “It is disappointing to get beaten but that is horseracing. I think we have bumped into a very good horse there and it is going to be hard to beat him in the Triumph Hurdle.

“I was quite pleased with how my horse settled today, and he jumped a lot better. He just got a bit keen as there was no pace from halfway, but I’m not making any excuses.

“He will need to improve a lot to beat Sir Gino, but I’m happy enough we still have got a good horse.

“It will be different conditions (in the Triumph), there will be more runners and there will be a lot more pace on, so we will give it another go at him.”



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Road to the Triumph starts now for Burdett

James Owen’s Burdett Road will look to consolidate his place at the head of the Triumph Hurdle market when he contests the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The four-year-old, a Royal Ascot winner last June, has made the perfect start to his hurdling career.

After winning his debut at Huntingdon by 12 lengths, he then claimed a similar contest to this by an easy six and a half lengths.

The form from that race has since been boosted by the subsequent success of the second-placed An Bradan Feasa, a comfortable winner when returning to Cheltenham in December.

Harry Cobden has ridden Burdett Road in both hurdling starts and will do so again at the weekend after partnering the gelding in a pleasing schooling session at home.

Burdett Road with connections after his last Cheltenham win
Burdett Road with connections after his last Cheltenham win (Nigel French/PA)

“We couldn’t be happier with him at home and he has schooled well. Harry was in on Thursday morning and schooled him and he did well and we’re looking forward to Saturday,” said Owen.

“This is a much tougher race (than before), there’s Sir Gino and we’ve got to give weight to the (JP) McManus horse that comes over from France (Milan Tino) and might improve. This is a lot tougher and should shed a lot of light on the Triumph Hurdle, it’s a trial and it should do.

“Hopefully we’re still favourite for the Triumph at 10 past 12 on Saturday.”

On choosing this race ahead of the Unibet Hurdle, the trainer added: “We made the decision just before declarations and if Harry was available in the Unibet, we were actually swaying that way with the allowances. But Harry was riding for Paul Nicholls in that, so it just made sense to stick amongst the juveniles where Harry was available.”

Nicky Henderson’s Sir Gino is also unbeaten over hurdles, with a French Listed success followed up by a 14-length Kempton win on his British debut in late December.

Sir Gino winning at Kempton
Sir Gino winning at Kempton (Adam Davy/PA)

“His jumping was far from perfect at Kempton, so he’s had plenty of practice in that department and is a person we like a lot,” said Henderson via his Unibet blog.

“This is a competitive race and Burdett Road has looked very good, therefore I should imagine whoever wins will likely be favourite for the Triumph.

“Sir Gino’s work has been very good, and he would be right up there with some of our previous good juveniles we’ve had down the years.”

Noel George and Amanda Zetterholm’s Milan Tino was third behind Burdett Road at Prestbury Park in November and will receive 5lb from the two aforementioned horses when he takes his chance under Jonjo O’Neill jr.

Harry Fry’s Gidleigh Park heads the market for the SSS Super Alloys Novices’ Hurdle, a Grade Two event run over two miles and four and a half furlongs.

Gidleigh Park at Newbury
Gidleigh Park at Newbury (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Unbeaten in three under rules, his latest win was a nine-length Newbury triumph, his first attempt at a two-and-a-half-mile trip and a performance that inspired a step up in grade.

“We couldn’t have asked for any more than what he has done up until this point,” said Fry.

“We stepped him up in trip the last day and he showed improved form and now we are stepping up in grade, so he will have to progress again.

“We feel he is doing that at home and is maturing and progressing with his racing. It’s his first run at the track, but I don’t anticipate that giving him any problems and I’m hoping he can continue to progress as he has done so far and keep the dream alive.”

Jonjo O’Neill’s Johnnywho is a key rival, a McManus-owned gelding who was last seen finishing fourth when beaten two lengths in the Grade One Challow at Newbury.

“He’s come out of the Challow well and Jonjo was happy with him and hopefully he can come forward again and run a nice race,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus.

“He looks a nice staying horse and hopefully there is more to come.”

Paul Nicholls runs Isaac Des Obeaux, a six-year-old from the family of Clan Des Obeaux who won his last two outings at Chepstow by decent margins.

“He is taking on stronger opposition after bolting up twice in ordinary races at Chepstow,” the trainer said via Betfair.

“Positive tactics seem to suit Isaac Des Obeaux who stays well, is a decent prospect and should run another tidy race. He will be a lovely chaser in time.”

There is a valuable handicap over fences in the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase, with Nicholls set to saddle two short-priced contenders in Hitman and Il Ridoto.

The latter was narrowly beaten in the December Gold Cup over course and distance last time out and is the reigning champion in the contest having prevailed by a length 12 months ago.

“He seems to reserve his best for Cheltenham and won this race a year ago off a mark of 138,” the trainer said.

“He is now 10lb higher after a career best when he was just beaten in the last stride by Fugitif in the December Gold Cup after looking like the winner landing over the last fence with a clear lead.

Il Ridoto (right) winning at the meeting last season
Il Ridoto (right) winning at the meeting last season (David Davies/PA)

“Il Ridoto has been working beautifully at home, looks great and must have a strong chance.”

Hitman is the other runner, a horse Nicholls is hoping will improve for a wind operation.

He said: “We cauterised his palate after he ran below-par at Aintree late in October.

“He is in great shape now at home and if he runs like he did in the Ryanair Chase in March (third), he must have a live chance off a mark of 156 with Freddie Gingell taking off a valuable 5lb, but I have a feeling he might just improve a bit for the run.”



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Burdett Road will be considered for run against older horses

James Owen has raised the exciting possibility of Triumph Hurdle favourite Burdett Road running in the Unibet Hurdle next weekend.

A Royal Ascot winner for Michael Bell, he has been very impressive in two starts over timber to date in the hands of Harry Cobden.

While Cobden’s availability is not set in stone due to his link with Paul Nicholls, Owen is considering taking on the older horses as he feels he would learn more in a better race than if it was a small field in the JCB Triumph Trial on the same card.

With Constitution Hill no longer running in what is registered as the International Hurdle, run on Trials day for the first time this year, the race has suddenly opened up.

“He doesn’t need to run before the Festival, but it would be nice for experience. I think next time he’s going to put a better performance up, especially on better ground, it will help his speed and his jumping,” Owen told Sky Sports Racing.

“I’d like to get another run into him because he’s a fresh horse, he was too fresh at Huntingdon, another run then five or six weeks into the Festival would be great.

“I think Harry is keen to ride him and if he can’t, there’s plenty of good jockeys out there.

“He’ll be entered in two races on Trials day, the four-year-old race and the older race, where he gets all the allowances. It’s not a bad shout, he’d learn a lot in that race and if there were only four runners in the Triumph Trial we might run him in the other one where he’d learn a bit more.

“The Triumph is the aim this year, as long as we get there in the same health we are now – a bit more experience would be great, which way we get there doesn’t matter.

“Whether we go to Trials day or if we are not happy or it’s not on, that’s why he is in in Ireland (Dublin Racing Festival), that’s an option as well. The Adonis is there but personally I think that is too close, if we don’t go to Trials day or Ireland I think we’d go straight there.”



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Dublin Racing Festival among options mooted for Burdett Road

A trip to the Dublin Racing Festival could be on the agenda for Triumph Hurdle favourite Burdett Road after missing out on an intended engagement at Chepstow over the Christmas period.

A Royal Ascot winner on the Flat when trained by Michael Bell, the three-year-old has made a smooth transition to hurdling and followed up a taking jumps debut at Huntingdon with a taking display at Cheltenham in November.

That saw the gelding installed as most bookmakers’ market leader for the juvenile showpiece on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and he was due to continue his hurdling education in Chepstow’s Finale Juvenile Hurdle.

However, significant rainfall turned conditions severely testing at the South Wales track, with James Owen deciding to save his high-class operator for another day.

A return to Prestbury Park on Cheltenham Trials Day and a trip to Leopardstown’s Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle are top of the possible alternatives.

Owen said: “The horse comes first. It would have been nice to run, but there are plenty of other options. He’s in great order and I couldn’t be happier with him.

“He will either go to Cheltenham on Trials Day and he will also have an entry for Leopardstown in early February, the Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

“We will just pick the most suitable option. We would like to run him once more before the Triumph and timing wise these two races are really good.”

On the chance of Burdett Road being a rare Leopardstown raider from the UK, he added: “It’s an option and we’ve talked about it.

“It’s an early closer, it’s very good prize-money and he doesn’t get a penalty in it. It’s an option we want to have and we will decide nearer the time.

“It’s six weeks out from Cheltenham, so would give us plenty of time.”

A run at either Cheltenham or Leopardstown would give Burdett Road the chance to consolidate his position at the top of the Triumph Hurdle market after both Nicky Henderson’s Sir Gino and the Willie Mullins-trained Bunting laid down their claims over Christmas.

Chepstow’s Grade Two was won by Gary Moore’s Salver, who flourished in the gruelling conditions and Owen was more than happy to watch on from the side as Burdett Road skipped that contest.

Burdett Road with winning trainer James Owen (second right) and connections after winning at Cheltenham
Burdett Road with winning trainer James Owen (second right) and connections after winning at Cheltenham (Nigel French/PA)

“We were there and it’s a shame the ground went as it did and we just felt we didn’t need to run him on the testing ground,” said Owen.

“He doesn’t have a lot to prove, we know he’s a good horse and he just needs another run going into the race (Triumph) – and unfortunately that wasn’t the day for it.

“It’s a shame, as looking at the forecast it looked like we would get away with it and they were calling the ground good to soft. But they did get a deluge.”



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Burdett Road camp buoyed by weekend form boost

James Owen’s Burdett Road is on track for his Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle bid at Chepstow after his Cheltenham form received a significant boost on Saturday.

The three-year-old was formerly trained on the Flat by both Roger Varian and Michael Bell, notably taking the Golden Gates Stakes at Royal Ascot in June for the latter.

His final run on the level was a third-placed effort in the Group Three Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor in late August, after which he was gelded and sent to Owen for a juvenile hurdling campaign.

At Huntingdon in November, he was an instant success in his new career, taking a two-mile contest by an effortless 12 lengths, with the whole field strung out behind him.

Burdett Road was then stepped markedly up in level for the Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham later the same month and was an impressive winner again under Harry Cobden, accelerating up the hill to secure a six-and-a-half-length victory over Jack Jones’ An Bradan Feasa.

Burdett Road with connections after his Cheltenham victory
Burdett Road with connections after his Cheltenham victory (Nigel French/PA)

Burdett Road became the Triumph Hurdle favourite as a result of that win, whereas Jones began to eye the Fred Winter for his well-regarded runner-up.

Both of those aspirations began to take shape at the weekend, as An Bradan Feasa returned to Cheltenham to contest a class two edition of the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle series and prevailed by three lengths.

Owen was pleased to see the prior Prestbury Park form boosted and intends to press on with his plan of running Burdett Road in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow on December 27, a Grade Two in which the Gredley family have been successful before with another former Flat horse in Allmankind.

“He’s really good, I’m very happy with him,” said Owen. “He’s been training well and I was really pleased to see the horse he beat win his trial at Cheltenham at the weekend.

“It was nice and Burdett Road has trained very well himself at home since, he’s schooled well and the plan is to go to the Finale on the 27th (of December) at Chepstow – all being well.

Burdett Road winning at Royal Ascot during his Flat career
Burdett Road winning at Royal Ascot during his Flat career (John Walton/PA)

“If the ground was really deep, we might think differently, but that’s the plan at the moment.

“He had a busy enough Flat campaign, so I’d say he’d only have one more run before Cheltenham, hopefully that’ll be at Chepstow. We want to go to Cheltenham with a fresh horse.

“That’s the route Tim and Mr (Bill) Gredley want to go, that’s the route they went with Allmankind.

“I know it’s a Grade Two now but it’s still good prize money and if we didn’t end up going there, we’d probably end up going back to Cheltenham for the trials day during January.”



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Chepstow next target for Burdett Road

Triumph Hurdle favourite Burdett Road will head to the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle over Christmas for the next step on his path to the Cheltenham Festival.

The Royal Ascot winner shot to the top of the market for the Triumph when supplementing his wide-margin Huntingdon win with a devastating display at Prestbury Park, coming from the back of the field to sprint clear of his rivals up the Cheltenham hill.

Trainer James Owen will now step Burdett Road up in class at Chepstow on December 27, where he will contest the Grade Two event his owners the Gredley family won with Allmankind back in 2019.

Owen said: “He’s come out of Cheltenham really well and is in full training and we’re looking forward to his next target, which will probably be the Finale at Chepstow.

“That will tell us what we do after that, whether we go straight to the Triumph or give him another race beforehand. Chepstow gives us plenty of time, all being well.

“It’s keeping us warm for Christmas and he’s an exciting horse for me, the yard and the Gredley family.”

Defi Du Seuil was the last horse to complete the Finale/Triumph Hurdle double and although Burdett Road faces the possible prospect of really testing ground at Chepstow on Welsh Grand National day, his handler believes the race comes at the perfect time in the season, with the Festival in March in mind.

Burdett Road is already a Royal Ascot winner
Burdett Road is already a Royal Ascot winner (David Davies/PA)

Owen added: “He handled the ground well at Cheltenham and I know Chepstow can be a bit more extreme but it’s a very good prize (£80,000) and they are the kind of races we want to be going for going into Cheltenham.

“If it was absolutely bottomless, we would think about it, but it’s the aim to go there and he’s being trained for it and that’s where he will go.

“If it is tiring ground and he has a hard race, then we have plenty of time and can go to Cheltenham a fresh horse. On the flipside, if we need to give him another run, we’ve plenty of time as well. It just gives us that extra option.”



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Monday Musings: Two Young Guns

Last week, as I detailed the overwhelming power of the big yards in the UK and Ireland, on the flat and it seemed even more so over jumps, I should have conceded that there is always room for a talented upstart to pick up a piece of the pie, writes Tony Stafford.

He or she has to have at least one well-heeled and convinced supporter to crash the big boys’ party; but two young Newmarket jumps trainers showed at Cheltenham this past weekend that they are on the fast track to success.

Both are based in the least likely of hotbeds for training jumpers in the UK. Newmarket, for all the merits of the schooling facilities of the Links, just behind Newmarket golf club and across from the Cambridge Road polytrack gallop and thence the Rowley Mile, has fewer jumping trainers than ever. Maybe that will start to change.

Cast your minds back 14 hours to the last race of Cheltenham’s three-day Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting. The favourite, a 9/4 shot, was sent out by a young man who didn’t have his first jumps runners until earlier this year. He made a great start, collecting five wins between the beginning and end of the 2022-23 season in late April.

Another eight successes under NH Rules have followed this campaign and, in between, 13 have come off 50 runs from 25 individual horses in his first campaign on the flat.

Ben Brookhouse is the name and the winners have flowed ever since from the nicely compact and centrally situated Saville House stable, occupied to good effect for many years and still owned by Willie Musson.

Ben’s jewel in the crown as far as buying horses is concerned is his father Roger, a long-standing owner for the Pipe stable. Brookhouse senior has some well-regarded animals sprinkled around a few major Irish yards, notably with Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead.

But the decision was made for Ben to train all the UK runners and yesterday’s impressive second bumper win for Brechin Castle under Jack Quinlan was as decisive as it was noteworthy and eye-catching for both trainer and long-neglected jockey. It ran in Roger’s colours, too!

Jack Quinlan has been just about the only professional jump jockey to be based in Newmarket for several years. Many questioned his stubbornness in remaining close to his family, but the association with Brookhouse has coincided with a general wider appreciation of his qualities.

An Irish point-to-point winner, Brechin Castle was prepared by the champion of the Irish pointer ‘conditioning and selling-on lark’ in Colin Bowe. He upgraded an original €52k yearling buy to a €165k project, merely by winning a point by a length; but as they say, it’s how they do it.

Pointers that turn into bumper and then jumping stars can come from all types of background. Brechin Castle’s sire Shantou died as a 28-year-old: yes, I kid you not, when Brechin Castle was already three years old. His dam’s sire, dual Derby (French and Irish by seven and then four lengths for Henry Cecil) Old Vic was 25 hen he passed away in 2011. Plenty of proven breeding talent to go with Classic performance.

The trick with Irish point winners is to find the ones with a touch of speed. We saw it from Brechin Castle on his UK debut at Sedgefield last month when he stretched 19 lengths clear. Yesterday, he drew alongside a Paul Nicholls previous winner up the home straight and had a comfortable two-and-a-quarter lengths to spare at the line of this Listed contest.

Of Ben’s five National Hunt wins before the season change-over, one was Listed bumper horse Aslukgoes, and he won twice with veteran hunter chaser Espoir De Teillee, each time ridden by Fern O’Brien, Fergal’s daughter. He also had a juvenile hurdler and staying novice to complete the eclectic score.

The flat campaign continued to reflect both his versatility and the varied composition of his stable. When we talked at an Epsom evening meeting in the summer, he said how lucky he is to be able largely to buy what he likes when he goes to horse sales. “Sometimes, though, if when I got one home, Dad doesn’t want it, I’m stuck with it until I can find an owner!”

Among the dozen winners, there were a couple of smart two-year-olds, Ben clearly intent on making his name as a dual-purpose trainer. In that respect he is following the example of his latest employer, Ian Williams, to whom he was assistant trainer until branching out this year.

Amazingly, James Owen, the other ground-breaking Newmarket handler to show his credentials at Cheltenham, also only took out his training licence this season. Before that, he had been one of the most successful trainers of Arabian horses in the UK.

He is now fully committed to the new job, though, and recently moved into Green Ridge stables in the Hamilton Road. When I had a connection with horses trained in Daryll Holand’s Exning yard – at the time the late Shaun Keightley was in situ – James Owen stabled his horses in a smart, but small, much newer building just to the right of the entrance.

Gay Kelleway was next door. As I mentioned, Owen was the top trainer of Arabian horses and the old maxim that if you can train one type of horse, you should be able to make a go at others seems to be ringing true in his case.

Owen started even later in the year – after the 2022-23 season end – than Brookhouse, but when Burdett Road, owned by the Gredley family, bolted up in the Triumph Hurdle Trial that opened Saturday’s programme, it made a lot of people take notice of this young man, probably many for the first time.

Burdett Road isn’t the only horse to give a salute to Bill Gredley’s East End of London heritage, Burdett Road going from Mile End Road to Commercial Road [and where the editor plays football on a Saturday morning! - Ed.] For this most successful businessman and Classic-winning owner (User Friendly won two Oaks’s and the St Leger against the boys in 1992), Owen has seven among those to have run so far this year. I doubt that this speedy gelding will be the last to win a good jumps race for his talented trainer, who is already up to 22 for his initial season.

Burdett Road had been a nice three-year-old when trained by Michael Bell, winning the Golden Gates Stakes at Royal Ascot and two other races on the flat before running third in two Group 3 events. A 100-rated horse ought to make a decent hurdler if he stays and on Saturday Harry Cobden was at pains to give the Muhaarar gelding a chance to last out the trip on the testing Cheltenham track.

He sat an exaggerated last of nine and only when they came down the hill approaching the home turn did he make any sort of move. Still three lengths adrift at the final flight, Cobden only needed to clear the obstacle safely. That achieved, he sprinted up the hill for a six-and-a-half length success.

As was pointed out afterwards, none of the Irish we’ll see and fear next March was there - no doubt Mr Mullins is honing the skills of the latest batch of Auteuil acquisitions - but rarely do you see horses scoot up that hill on soft ground in that manner.

James Owen said afterwards he would look forward hopefully to good ground at the Festival next March to harness his speed.

As Nicky Henderson wisely averred yesterday after Jonbon’s authoritative return in the Shloer Chase, a lot can happen before then, but Ben Brookhouse and James Owen will both be picturing a repeat of this weekend’s spectaculars to warm the long winter nights.

- TS



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Burdett Road ultra-impressive in Triumph Trial victory

Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road laid down an early marker for the Triumph Hurdle when winning the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle in eyecatching fashion.

Now with fledgling handler James Owen, having spent his days on the level with Michael Bell, who guided him to success in the Golden Gates Stakes over 10 furlongs back in June, he went on to run with credit in a couple of Group Threes.

Sent to Owen for a hurdling campaign, like all owned by the Gredley Family, he had no trouble in opening his account at Huntingdon but faced a completely different level of competition at Cheltenham.

Up against six other previous winners and Milan Tino, who brought good form from France, plenty of questions were going to be asked and Burdett Road answered them all emphatically.

Sent off a 9-4 chance, he was ridden incredibly confidently by Harry Cobden, who managed to avoid the carnage created at the first flight by Parish Star.

When An Bradan Feasa slipped the field turning in, he had everything else off the bridle but Cobden sat motionless before asking for an effort approaching the last.

Despite not meeting that on a good stride, he had so much left he was able to quicken up smartly, going up the hill to win by six and a half lengths.

“When he won at Huntingdon, he was keen and did everything the wrong way,” said Owen.

“We had to do one of two things today, either make the running or drop him in and we all decided we would drop him in and Harry has given him a lovely, cool ride. He will have learned a lot on the way round.

“With the rain coming last night, I was so nervous this morning, but for a Flat horse he is tough and God, didn’t he come up that hill well.

“He is a very tough horse and exciting going forward, this was a Triumph trial and that is our aim. On good ground, he is going to be exciting. He may go to Chepstow or the Adonis.

“He is the one we are waking up for every morning and looking forward to seeing him again.”

Winning connections with Burdett Road
Winning connections with Burdett Road (Nigel French/PA)

Cobden said: “James gave me a free hand and we made the decision to drop him in as he was too free at Huntingdon and if he is going to be a good horse then he is going to need to learn how to race properly. He’s a very classy horse isn’t he.

“He missed a few hurdles on the way round and could easily have got keen. I was just trying to put him into the bottom of them so I didn’t light him up with a good jump.

“He’s obviously a good horse and March is very much agenda now.

“I was still on the bridle (coming down the hill) and I suppose that is what it’s like if you are Paul Townend!

“It was really nice and he’s a proper little horse, he winged the second last and had a dream run though. You can go for gaps that possibly aren’t really there on a horse that isn’t travelling quite so well and when I pushed the button turning in he jumped the last and quickened up nicely.

“Paul (Nicholls) has a few nice juveniles but none probably as good as that.”



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Burdett Road back on the big stage in Triumph Trial

Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road knows all about competing on the big stage and heads to Cheltenham to continue his hurdling education in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle.

A winner of the Golden Gates Stakes at the big summer meeting before trying his hand in Group company, he made the perfect start to life over timber when making his first outing for new handler James Owen at Huntingdon.

Although somewhat raw, it was hard not to be impressed by the facile nature of that 12-length romp and he now heads to Prestbury Park for an immediate step up in class.

“He seemed to enjoy it at Huntingdon, even though he was a little bit keen and exuberant,” said Owen.

“He enjoyed the jumping but made a couple of silly little mistakes and we’ve had him back and schooled him since and he seems to have learnt a bit.

“Hopefully, he will put up a better display of jumping at Cheltenham, where we are all looking forward to watching him.

“We’re very privileged to have him and hopefully he will do the job for us just as well as he did for Michael Bell.”

Noel George may have grown up a stone’s throw away form Cheltenham but he is now classed as a raider from France at Prestbury Park and, alongside his training partner Amanda Zetterholm, will saddle the exciting Milan Tino.

Owned by JP McManus, he reversed form with his debut conqueror Kingland when they clashed again in Auteuil’s Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy and the two horses that finished ahead of Milan Tino that day went on to finish first and second again in one of France’s premier juvenile events.

George said: “He’s a horse we have always liked a lot and I actually got in touch with Charlie Swann before he ran first time out as he was for sale, and after he confirmed he was a good horse first time out, JP McManus has thankfully invested in him and I think he’s a smart horse to head over with.

“The two horses who beat him last time were the first two in a Grade One and first time out he was beaten by a horse who was third in a Grade One.

“He has improved a lot since those two runs and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the form works out in England.

“I’m in France mainly for the amazing prize-money, but I have British owners and I’m British myself obviously, so when we have ones good enough for the big day, then we will be coming over.”

A field of 11 will head to post, with An Bradan Feasa making his debut for Newmarket handler Jack Jones following an impressive win at Ballinrobe in September, while Tom Dascombe will saddle a rare runner over obstacles with the hat-trick seeking Gifted Angel.

Brian Ellison’s Eagle Prince and Ben Brookhouse’s I Still Have Faith both arrive following a victory on their hurdling debuts, with owners Mark and Maria Adams bidding for a third straight win in the race with former Andrew Balding inmate Galactic Jack.



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Burdett Road road impresses with winning hurdles debut

Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road made an immediate impression on his hurdles bow with a clear-cut victory at Huntingdon.

Winner of the Golden Gates Stakes for Michael Bell in June, Burdett Road then tackled the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood before finishing third to Passenger in the Winter Hill Stakes.

Subsequently gelded and transferred to the care of James Owen by owners the Gredley Family, Burdett Road was sent off the 4-9 favourite in the Follow Us On Twitter @betrhino Juvenile Hurdle and he made short work of five rivals in the hands of Harry Cobden.

Though not foot perfect at the first attempt, Burdett Road galloped home 12 lengths clear of Palio and is a 33-1 chance with Paddy Power for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Owen said: “It can only go wrong when they are odds-on like that, but he had done lots of schooling at home. He was a keen horse on the Flat and that is why we put the hood on him.

“The plan was to go to Warwick, but as the ground was going to be so soft there we decided to come here. He has learnt a lot, but he will be better in a truer run race. 

“We all know that he has got an engine and we have got to just keep teaching him now. 

“I would have loved to have seen him settle better, but he did switch off fine when he got to the front and he jumped fine on the whole, with the exception of a couple of little mistakes.

“As far as juveniles go first time out, that was OK. He got the job done and he was not for stopping.

“So much thanks go to the Gredley family for sending him to me. That has relieved the pressure a bit. Let’s hope we can keep building on that.”

The Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 18 could now be the plan for Burdett Road. 

Owen said: “If it is not deep ground in a couple of weeks’ time we will go for the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham and learn a bit more about him. 

“He needs education, and he is not a horse that wants to be running too fresh. He had plenty of Flat runs and he improved almost every time he ran. 

“I don’t think the track at Cheltenham will pose any problems to him. I just hope he is a bit more amenable.”

Cobden told Racing TV: “He’s a very good horse. He’s done a lot of things wrong there, but still won with his head in his chest.

“I was confident, I knew there was one down my inside but I had so much horse left under me it wasn’t a problem. He’s definitely a Triumph Hurdle horse anyway, I’m confident of that.”

Cobden, who was celebrating his 25th birthday, went on to register a double aboard the Paul Nicholls-trained Mofasa (5-4 favourite) in the Premier League Offers At Rhino.Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.



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Dettori out luck on final Royal Ascot ride, as Burdett Road takes Golden Gates

Frankie Dettori was out of luck on his final Royal Ascot ride as Knockbrex trailed home well beaten in the Golden Gates Stakes won by Burdett Road.

Dettori went into an early lead on Charlie Johnston’s charge, but the writing was on the wall before the turn for home and he quickly backpeddled.

That left Liberty Lane in front but he too paid for his early exertions, as Neil Callan made stealthy progress on Michael Bell’s three-year-old.

Burdett Road (20-1) went several lengths clear and the race looked over. However, a combination of tiredness and being in front on his own meant he was in danger of being caught.

Lion Of War, briefly stuck in traffic earlier in the straight, came with a late rattle but the 9-2 joint-favourite could only close to within three-quarters of a length.

It was a second winner of the week for Callan having won the Queen Anne on Triple Time.

Bell said: “He loved that fast ground when he won at Newbury so we were hopeful he’d be effective today. It was a much deeper race, he’s not done much since Newbury, he is very good looking horse, bred by Gredleys, who we have been lucky for, so I’m delighted.

“The colours have been lucky, and the Gredleys have been great breeders for many years. Bill is not here today, but he will be thrilled, watching at home, he was on the gallops this morning and was here on Thursday.

“It is very hard, the most difficult thing about training when you have been doing it for as long as me, when you can clearly do the job, is getting the well-bred horse to walk through the door. You can’t train fresh air!

“We are lucky we have the Gredleys and many other nice horses. It is tough old business, but we are lucky to have what we have and very grateful for another winner here.”



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