Tag Archive for: Hudson De Grugy

Moore has high hopes for Hudson on day one of Winter Million

Hudson De Grugy has the benefit of a course and distance victory to his name as he bids to scoop the first prize in the Sovereign Handicap Hurdle on day one of the Winter Million meeting at Lingfield on Friday.

The five-year-old put up a game performance when beating Calico by two and a quarter lengths on heavy ground last month, and with similar conditions guaranteed at the Surrey venue, trainer Gary Moore goes there with an air of quiet confidence.

Hudson De Grugy has been raised 3lb for that success, but Moore is optimistic the horse is up to it, in an event that carries a prize fund of £100,000.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him run. Hopefully he’s got a reasonable chance,” said the West Sussex handler.

“He’s gone up in the weights a bit, but hopefully he’s improving enough to counteract that. He won over the course last time and conditions shouldn’t be a problem.”

Lucky Max bids to take his unbeaten run this season to four. The six-year-old, trained by Sean Doyle, is one of three Irish contenders in the £100,000 event and heads to Surrey in great form after two victories at Cork and one at Clonmel.

Doyle is hopeful his upward trajectory can continue, with his mark having risen from 96 in Ireland to 136 in England so far this term.

“He’s just improved and improved, we don’t know how much improvement is left in him but he’s definitely up to that mark now,” said the County Wexford handler.

“It’s the next step for him now, we want to step him up and see if he’s good enough to compete at that level.

“We’re going to find out more about how good he is on Friday.”

Emmet Mullins is the other Irish trainer tempted by the prize money on offer at Lingfield and he has a pair of entrants in the same race.

Carrarea – to be ridden by Paul Townend and vying for favouritism with Metier – has gone close twice in hurdle events this season and was beaten just a head at Fairyhouse in November on his handicap debut.

“It was a good run by Carrarea last time. It was his first run in a handicap, so hopefully the experience should help him,” Mullins told Sky Sports Racing.

“Paul is over there for Ascot on Saturday so it was good to take advantage of that.”

Sevenna Star is the other Mullins challenger, a horse previously campaigned on the Flat by John Gosden and John Ryan and one who is yet to lose his maiden status over obstacles.

“He was a good younger horse in his day on the Flat, but he’s had his issues and problems,” he said.

Irish trainer Emmet Mullins is two-handed in the Sovereign Handicap Hurdle with Carrarea and Sevenna Star
Irish trainer Emmet Mullins is two-handed in the Sovereign Handicap Hurdle with Carrarea and Sevenna Star (PA)

“Hopefully, we seem to be getting on top of them in the last month or so. Mike (O’Connor, jockey) is a good young rider and has had a bit of success for me in the past.

“Picking between the two is a tricky one. Sevenna Star has had his issues, Carrarea has more potential but with the ground, the weight and Mike’s claim, maybe Sevenna Star could run into a pace, hopefully.”

Of former crack novice Metier, trainer Harry Fry said: “It was nice to see him bounce back in the big handicap hurdle at Ascot before Christmas and this race has been very much on the radar since then.

“Everything about the race should suit him well and we are looking forward to seeing him back on his favoured heavy ground.”

Paul Nicholls runs the lightly-raced Hacker Des Places for the first time since his sixth-placed effort in a Kempton handicap hurdle on December 27, a run which followed a 365-day injury-enforced absence.

“He was far from disgraced on his return at Kempton over Christmas after a long time off with an injury,” Nicholls said on his Betfair blog.

“He tired late on that day as I expected when a lack of peak fitness told and it wouldn’t surprise me if he needs this run too and will improve for it.”

Nicholls also has a contender in the two-mile seven-furlong Cazoo Hurdle, with Calva d’Auge looking to bounce back from a beaten effort at Newbury in November and rediscover the form that saw him win three times last season.

Paul Nicholls' Calva D’Auge
Paul Nicholls’ Calva D’Auge (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He is a hardy character who has done very well for us, winning four of his last six starts, but there is a price to pay as he has edged up to a career high handicap mark of 146,” the trainer said.

“So he is not the easiest to place now but he is reliable, stays well, handles any ground and will run his usual honest race.”

Phil Kirby will saddle probable Grand National-entrant Top Ville Ben for the same race, a horse more readily associated with steeplechasing as he has not started over hurdles on British turf since 2018.

His last run resulted in a good third in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day and while a tilt at Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase was next on the agenda, the softer going at Lingfield appeals to the trainer.

“It’s a good opportunity and good prize money,” he said.

“He goes there in good form and his last run was a good run.

“I’m worried the ground is going to dry up in the Sky Bet Chase for him so this fills a bit of a hole.

Top Ville Ben
Top Ville Ben (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’ll like the ground and it’s a small field, he should have a good chance.”

Kirby also has a runner in the weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Novices’ Chase, with Bushypark due to make his third start over fences in the two-mile-seven-furlong event.

The gelding was a five-times winner over hurdles and made a victorious start to his chasing career with a debut success at Kelso in early December, but a subsequent run at Haydock later in the same month resulted in a well-beaten third.

Kirby could find nothing amiss with the bay following that performance and has every hope he will return to form at Lingfield.

“We were a bit disappointed with him last time, I thought he went there in very good form and the form has worked out from Kelso as the second-placed horse has come out and finished second in a Grade Two (Doyen Breed),” he said.

“He seems in good order, there’s nothing come to light so hopefully he can bounce back and he goes there in good form.

“He’s a tough little horse and I don’t think the race coming up quite soon will be an issue.”

Nicholls’ Broken Halo is well-fancied for the same race after his taking 19-length success in a novice race at Exeter on New Year’s Day, a performance that was his second start over fences.

“He was always going to be a chaser and he won very nicely on his second start over fences at Exeter on New Year’s Day, despite the trip being shorter than ideal for him,” Nicholls said.

“While this race is a step up in class for Broken Halo, he handles deep ground, is a stout stayer, and could run tidily.”

Kerry Lee is hoping the testing conditions will benefit Financier when he takes his chance in the racehorselotto.com Handicap Chase.

The nine-year-old returns to a two-mile trip after finishing seventh at Ascot on his seasonal debut when stepped up to two miles and three furlongs in the Howden Handicap Chase.

“He seems to be at his best on very soft ground and over two miles,” Lee said.

“It will be very sticky by Friday if there’s no rain but if anyone is going to handle that, he will.

“He seems to be very well at home and we’re trying to play to his strengths.

“He’s an absolute gentle giant, he’s about 18 hands and he’s just the most gorgeous horse.”

Moore seeking further improvement from Hudson De Grugy

Gary Moore says Hudson De Grugy will “have to up his game” if he is to win what promises to be a cracking renewal of the Listed Betfair Daily Rewards December Handicap Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.

Despite a delicious card boasting two tasty Grade One events, the concluding two-mile hurdle is shaping up to be a fascinating prep for the Ascot Betfair Exchange Trophy on December 18.

Hudson De Grugy heads the market with the sponsors following his two-and-a-half-length success over course and distance on his seasonal debut, but his Horsham trainer feels the four-year-old must prove he is worthy of a step up in class.

“Hudson De Grugy goes for the Listed Hurdle. He has worked well this week,” said Moore.

“He is a young horse carrying a lot of weight (10st 11lb). This is a lot different to the races he has won around there and he will have to up his game to win. He will appreciate a drop more rain as well.”

The same sentiments apply to Metier, who held an entry in last weekend’s Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, before trainer Harry Fry withdrew the five-year-old, fearing quicker ground.

Metier rattled up a hat-trick of victories from four runs last season, which included a 12-length heavy-ground victory in the Grade One Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.

Fry said: “The lack of rain and softer ground is proving difficult, but we are under the impression that conditions will get slower and that is what we are after.

“He is ready to get started and we are back to the scene of his greatest triumph. It will tell us plenty about where we are for the rest of the season running off a mark of 144.

“We are looking forward to seeing him out again.”

Benson is looking to win back-to-back renewals for Dr Richard Newland and the six-year-old drops back in trip after finishing fifth over two miles and five furlongs in a Cheltenham handicap on his return to action last month.

Newland said: “It is an obvious target for us and he has run well the last two times he has run at Sandown.

“He is in good form and I think this trip might be better for him. It was his first run, but I still feel he weakened a bit. I’d like to think he has a bit more scope in him over this trip.

“Benson has a tongue tie and this will likely be very different ground to what he won on last year, but we will take our chance.”

Lucy Wadham is hoping the rain arrives for Miss Heritage, who was runner-up in the Imperial Cup at Sandown last season.

The consistent seven-year-old mare finished runner-up five times in her last seven starts last season, as well as landing a handicap at Warwick, but the Newmarket handler feels she could find life more difficult this term.

Wadham said: “She was absolutely brilliant last season and thrives on very soft ground, so I am a bit anxious, as they were talking about having eight millimetres of rain on Friday night, but that may not arrive now.

“We will be keeping an eye on that, but she is in great form and has had a run. We are now in December and while the ground is winter ground, normally at this time of year it is bottomless.

“It is hard because you can’t hold them up forever, but the prize money is good.

“We are confident in her well-being, but she is obviously paying for last year in terms of her rating.

“That said, she ran an absolute belter at Ascot on her seasonal debut on what was just good ground and the softer it is, the better her chance.”

Clerk of the Course, Andrew Cooper, is keeping a watchful eye on the weather forecast, after the Esher track missed any significant rain on Thursday night.

After walking the course again late Friday morning, Cooper said: “We are going to leave it as we tweaked it to this morning, which is the chase course being good (good to soft in places) and the hurdles course good to soft (good in places).

“We thought we might see some rain here last night, but it just petered out by the time the milder air got to us and other than a bit of drizzle, which didn’t measure anything, we saw nothing. There was no rain.

“There is a risk of rain later in the day today. For the bulk of racing we should stay dry, but there is a system coming across from the west that could catch us. The uncertainty for us is how far north it gets. There could be a period of rain early evening. I have seen five-plus millimetres on the forecast and if it does get to us, it could be a reasonable drop.

“It is uncertain. We have had that similar forecast twice this week and got absolutely nothing. It is more frustrating when it is vital and you haven’t done something because of that forecast, but it is more a Flat racing irrigation decision. We have had a dry November, but we had the wettest October we ever recorded here.”