Tag Archive for: Erne River

Nick Kent on verge of breakthrough success with Erne River

Nick Kent will saddle his first Grade One runner when unbeaten chaser Erne River takes his chance in the SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree on Thursday.

The gelding has run twice over fences and was victorious on both occasions, taking a competitive Doncaster novice by six lengths in January and then going on to score again when a 13-length winner at Wetherby the following month.

The Wetherby outing took place on soft ground that later deteriorated into heavy – conditions Kent felt did not suit his seven-year-old and thus made his decisive win all the more impressive.

“We’re excited, of course, it’s our first Grade One runner,” said the Lincolnshire-based trainer.

“All I can say is he’s really well, he came out of Wetherby really well. We felt he deserved a chance in a race like this, showing what he’d shown already, so we’ll give it a go and see if he’s up to it.

“He ran really well at Doncaster, it’s a flat galloping track again at Aintree. The ground was against him at Wetherby, I felt, he doesn’t feel the best on softer ground and the better ground seemed to suit him, but then again you couldn’t argue with how he ran at Wetherby.

“He galloped to the line. Charlie (Hammond, jockey) was really happy with him and said every time he gave him a squeeze he kept finding (more).”

The form of the Doncaster race was boosted at Ayr last week when Dan Skelton’s Beakstown, beaten six lengths by Erne River, went on to score in the Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase.

“The form’s looking good, it’s a big ask going into a Grade One but let’s see,” said Kent.

“He’s improved so quickly, he seems to have progressed very quickly. He did have three runs in point to points in Ireland, I know it’s not the same but it’s still experience over fences.

Erne River during his hurdling career
Erne River during his hurdling career (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’s got his own way of jumping, he can get a bit low at the odd one but he’s quite an intelligent horse, he’s quite clever.

“We’ll just have to hope it all holds together on the day – it’s exciting, nerve-wracking, but exciting.”

Colin Tizzard will be represented by The Widdow Maker and War Lord, the latter of whom was a creditable fourth behind Edwardstone in the Arkle at Cheltenham.

A 50-1 chance at the Festival, the performance was a significant step forward for the grey and assistant trainer Joe Tizzard is hoping a return to a two-and-a-half-mile trip will see him at his best.

“It was cracking run in the Arkle and he just got a bit outpaced at a crucial time and stayed on again really strongly,” he said.

War Lord (left) in action at Lingfield
War Lord (left) in action at Lingfield (Steven Paston/PA)

“It has always been the plan to step him back up to two and a half at Aintree. He won’t mind the ground. It looks like a lovely race for him to be honest and hopefully he will be very competitive in it.

“On the ratings he has a tiny bit to find, but not a great deal. He’s not far away and that two and a half at Aintree will be right up his street.”

Millers Bank is another of the seven-strong field and arrives on Merseyside after finishing second to Pic D’orhy in the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton in February.

The bay produced an assured round of jumping in the race, putting behind him two prior runs where he made errors when travelling competitively and unseated his jockey.

“He’s very well, he’s come out of Kempton in good shape and this has always been part of the plan,” said Hales.

Alex Hales' Millers Bank
Alex Hales’ Millers Bank (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s obviously got to improve again and it will be a competitive race, but we’re really looking forward to running him.”

Millers Bank was an 11-length winner on his chasing debut at Huntingdon but jumped a little too carefully on occasion during his following two runs and seemed to stutter upon landing and thus unbalance his rider.

“His first run at Huntingdon was absolutely brilliant, at Newbury he just took a little time to warm up to it, he was a bit novicey and I think he was the same at Cheltenham really. He just didn’t quite get his landing gear out quick enough,” said Hales.

“He did jump well at Kempton, that was the main thing, it was nice to get a clear run with him and hopefully he can build on that.”

“It’s very exciting and it’s just great to have a runner in a Grade One.”

Pic D’orhy will cross paths again with Millers Bank, as Paul Nicholls’ seven-year-old searches for a first Grade One success.

“I’ve had this race in mind all season for Pic D’orhy who is best on a flat track like Aintree on nice ground,” the Ditcheat trainer told Betfair.

“We were never going to Cheltenham with him and probably shouldn’t have taken him to Sandown. He is exciting and looked smart when winning last time at Kempton which was his best performance over fences.

“He has won two Grade Two chases and it would be nice to win a Grade One.”

Rachael Blackmore and Gin On Lime somehow kept their partnership intact to win at Cheltenham in November
Rachael Blackmore and Gin On Lime somehow kept their partnership intact to win at Cheltenham in November (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The Irish have a sole runner through the Henry de Bromhead-trained Gin On Lime – last seen snatching victory from the jaws of defeat when scrambling to her feet and claiming a Cheltenham novice match race from My Drogo in November.

Milton Harris’ Jacamar, who finished fourth to Do Your Job in the Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr on Saturday, was declared a non runner.

Erne River giving Nick Kent plenty to look forward to

Nick Kent looks to have a promising novice on his hands after Erne River scored a second victory over fences at Wetherby.

The seven-year-old was victorious on his chasing debut at Doncaster in January, crossing the line six lengths ahead of Beakstown after an assured round of jumping.

As a result he was the 1-2 favourite for the Wetherby outing, a price he more than justified when running to an unchallenged 13-length success over four rivals in the Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices’ Chase.

Conditions in West Yorkshire were more challenging than Erne River has encountered previously, with strong winds and soft ground causing the gelding to travel slightly less fluently than he had done on his prior Doncaster victory.

“I’m really pleased, I was concerned about the ground and he didn’t look as happy as he can do,” said Kent.

“I suppose that’s the sign of a good horse, he’s gone and done it on ground that wouldn’t be ideal for him.

“Charlie (Hammond) said that every time he asked and squeezed him, he did find a bit, he kept finding.

“Charlie was delighted with him. When you’re watching it you don’t know what the jockey is feeling and I thought they didn’t look to be going very fast and it all looked hard work, but Charlie was really pleased with him.”

Kent would now like to find his stable star another similar race in which he can gain experience before considering a high-calibre assignment in the spring.

The Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree and the Grade Two Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr are both possible goals for the horse and he may head straight to one of them if a suitable race cannot be found beforehand.

“We’re just running out of time, really,” said Kent.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this, we may have to go to Aintree without another run.

“We’ll see what there is, I haven’t looked to see what there is before Aintree if we go there – there is a race at Ayr as well.”

Erne River runs in the same silks as Kent’s six-time winning hurdler Mick Maestro, with both horses owned by the same Crossed Fingers Partnership that were involved in horses such as God’s Own, Double Shuffle, Bun Doran and Big Fella Thanks.

“They own Mick Maestro with us, they’re good owners and they’ve had some nice horses over the years,” Kent said of the connections.

“It’s been great, they’ve given us the support.

“We’re a small yard and it’s a bit of a gamble for them to send horses to a yard like ours and hopefully we’re repaying them.”

Wonderwall sparks Festival dream with Doncaster verdict

Richard Spencer has high hopes for Wonderwall after his convincing victory in the Betting Better With Sky Bet Maiden Hurdle at Doncaster.

The six-year-old is a bumper winner and looked a likely victor on his hurdles debut at Newbury before blundering at the final flight and eventually finishing second.

This time there were no such errors and the bay travelled with complete ease to comfortably prevail under James Bowen at odds of 6-4.

Spencer has the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in mind for the gelding, a horse he regards as the best jumping prospect in his dual-purpose Newmarket yard.

“We’ve always thought he’d be a horse for the Ballymore,” he said.

“We’d like to run before if we could. There’s (Cheltenham Festival) Trials Day and there’s the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon, but the plan has been Cheltenham for a long time.

“He’s going to be a better horse when he jumps a fence, he just respects a fence better than a hurdle because he’s got so much ability.

“He’s a very good horse. He’s the best jumper we’ve got, we haven’t got many but he’d work with a lot of good Flat horses as well.

“He’s got a lot of natural speed, he’s stays, he’s a very good horse.

“We were gutted he got beat the first time but at the end of the day, he’s had the experience and it’s going to stand him in good stead and if we can get another run into him, that would be great.”

Moriko De Vassy (9-4) looked a horse of great promise when landing the Betting Better With Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle for Aidan Coleman and Tom Symonds.

Moriko De Vassy winning his bumper
Moriko De Vassy winning his bumper (Tim Goode/PA)

The five-year-old was a bumper winner last term and took his hurdles debut by 30 lengths in November, but fell when contesting a novice contest at Huntingdon last month.

Burdened with a 7lb penalty for his previous success, the gelding overcame a final fence error and a lost shoe to produce an impressive late burst of speed and deny Fergal O’Brien’s Great Heart’Jac by a neck on the line.

“We’ve done lots of work with his jumping,” Symonds said.

“At Huntingdon it was frustrating because he just turned to see Mr (Nicky) Henderson’s horse, Balco Coastal, who’s obviously franked the form, and he said ‘what the hell are you doing there?’ and forgot there was a hurdle in front of him.

“It’s slightly arrogant, here he hit the front, looked at the hurdle and just put down.

“He might (have an entry at Cheltenham) but we will take our time with him.”

Erne River made light work of his chasing debut when cruising to an impressive six-length win in the Sky Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase for Charlie Hammond and Nick Kent.

Nick Kent's Erne River
Nick Kent’s Erne River (Tim Goode/PA)

The 5-1 chance kept himself out of trouble as three runners either fell or were brought down and found himself clear of the field approaching the last fence, which he jumped well to cross the line unchallenged.

“We know he’s a very good horse and the two wins last year (over hurdles) were a bonus because I didn’t think he was quick enough for a hurdles race and he proved us totally wrong!” said Kent.

“He oozes chaser and that’s why we’ve gone chasing quicker than normal and we’re really, really pleased.

“He’s a bit more relaxed as he’d been a bit keen in his races last year, but we’ve worked on that at home, he was great there.”

William Maggs’ career in the saddle got off to the best possible start as he enjoyed a winner on his first ride under rules.

The 16-year-old has pony racing experience and rides for Donald McCain alongside his twin brother Charlie, who began his professional career for the trainer at Southwell on Sunday.

Riding the McCain-trained Bird On The Wire in the first division of the Sky Bet Extra Places Every Day Handicap Hurdle, a race specifically for conditional or amateur jockeys, Maggs steered the 8-1 shot to a four-and-a-quarter-length victory over 50-1 chance Ribeye.

“What an amazing start, that’s my first ride under rules,” the jockey said.

“I’ve ridden in pony races since I was about 11 or 12 and picked up two winners from 24 rides.

“It’s nice to open the account under rules like this.

“I was travelling from the outside as the horses turned in and as I came down to three out, I switched him down the outside and he just picked up from there and kept on galloping.”

Of bagging a first winner before his twin brother, Maggs added: “I won’t rub it in too much!”

Division two of the same race went the way of Manintheshadows, ridden to success by AJ O’Neill for his father Jonjo.

A 9-1 chance, the chestnut recorded a five-length triumph to claim his second career victory.

“It’s fantastic, he’s a great little horse who tries so hard,” the jockey said.

“He just keeps galloping once he gets into his nice rhythm, he finds his happy spot and keeps going from there.

“I’m really enjoying the riding at the minute and I’m lucky enough to be having a lucky streak, but in the future my heart is quite set on training, so hopefully that will come into fruition over time.”