Tag Archive for: Maximilian

Maximilian to miss remainder of the season

Maximilian, one of last season’s leading novice hurdlers, will miss the entirety of the current campaign due to injury.

The seven-year-old has won five of his seven starts to date for trainer Donald McCain and the Owners Group and was last seen finishing second in Grade One company at Aintree.

The form of that race could hardly have worked out better, with the winner Apple Away, third-placed Iroko and fourth home Stay Away Fay all making the mark over fences this term, and Maximilian himself was due to embark on a novice chasing campaign before injury intervened.

Connections had initially he hoped he would return to competitive action early in the new year, but have now had to draw stumps for the season.

“Unfortunately he won’t be back until next autumn,” said the owners’ racing manager Dan Downie.

“It’s obviously frustrating, but the main thing is he’ll be fine and it’s one of those things really.

“It would have been interesting to see how he got on, but hopefully we’ll have a much more positive conversation in a year’s time.”

Injury sidelines chasing prospect Maximilian

Maximilian’s novice chasing career is temporarily on hold, with the seven-year-old set to miss the first part of the season through injury.

Trained by Donald McCain, Maximilian built up a fine reputation as a staying novice hurdler last season winning three times, including when scooping Grade Two honours in Doncaster’s River Don Novices’ Hurdle.

He finished second to Apple Away in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on his final start of the campaign, with impressive Warwick scorer Iroko and Cheltenham Festival winner Stay Away Fay behind in third and fourth respectively and was due to embark on a novice chasing campaign this term.

Having seen Storm Babet curtail plans for a chasing bow at Carlisle, Maximilian’s season has now met with further interruption after suffering a setback which will keep him sidelined.

“He’s picked up an injury so he won’t be out for a few months,” said Dan Downie of Owners Group, to whom Maximilian belongs.

“It’s not a big thing, but he will need some time off, so it’s just frustrating really.

“He will come back at some point and it will just be a case of giving him time. I’m not too sure on the timescale exactly. He definitely won’t be out in the next few months.

“The plan was to go novice chasing with him and I think that would still be the plan.”

Paddy Power favourite Stage Star firmly on course for Cheltenham

Cheltenham Festival victor Stage Star is due to make his seasonal debut at the Cotswolds track in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding had a successful time of things last season, enjoying a graduation to novice chasing when banking four wins including in the Grade One Turners Novices’ Chase at the showpiece fixture in March.

After a summer break the seven-year-old is now being prepared to return to action over the same course and distance in November, where he heads the ante-post market with the sponsors at 6-1.

“We’re very happy with him and we’re hoping to run him first time out in the Paddy Power,” said Dan Downie of Owners Group, to whom Stage Star belongs.

“He’s summered really well and Paul’s been delighted with him in recent weeks, so the plan is to go to Cheltenham with him.”

Stage Star after Cheltenham Festival success
Stage Star after Cheltenham Festival success (David Davies/PA)

Stage Star – who was also a Grade One winner as a novice hurdler – has been very effective over a trip of two and a half miles, though connections do consider him capable of stepping up in distance in time.

“We’ll just see how we go, we’ve always thought he would get further but I suppose this will tell us a bit more and we’ll go from race to race,” said Downie.

Donald McCain’s Maximilian also runs in the silks of Owners Group and he too is limbering up for a first run of the campaign after Storm Babet scuppered plans for a Carlisle debut this week.

The chestnut was a Graded-winning hurdler last term when taking the River Don before finishing second in Aintree’s Sefton, with a novice chasing campaign the plan this time around.

Donald McCain's Maximilian
Donald McCain’s Maximilian (Steven Paston/PA)

“He’s good, he was going to run at Carlisle on Thursday but we missed a bit of work last week because of the storm,” Downie said.

“Donald’s gallops were affected a little bit so he will run in the next couple of weeks, the plan at the minute is to go novice chasing with him.

“You’ve got to keep an open mind and be flexible but he jumps very well at home and really enjoys it, so we’d be thinking of a novice chasing campaign at the moment for him.”

Maximilian all set for Stay Away Fay rematch at Aintree

Donald McCain will relish the challenge of taking on Stay Away Fay again at Aintree as Maximilian bids to frank the form of his Doncaster victory.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Stay Away Fay impressed when taking the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last week, having previously been beaten a length by McCain’s charge in the River Don Novices’ Hurdle on Town Moor.

Winner of three of his four stats over hurdles for the Owners Group 099 syndicate, the seven-year-old bypassed Cheltenham in favour of the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle on day two of the Aintree Grand National Festival.

“It’s a great form boost,” McCain said of Stay Away Fay’s success.

“Obviously Paul and everybody thought they should have won on the day (at Doncaster) – we’ll see if he’s right.

“We are running at Aintree. I don’t care who’s running against us!

“Paul’s horse won well. It was nice to see. He was good and Harry (Cobden) gave him a good ride and he won very well.”

McCain is happy for Maximilian to play the underdog again at Aintree and he goes there a fresh horse, having last run in January.

He added: “We didn’t want to go to Cheltenham as we always wanted to go to Aintree.

“Touch wood at the moment he gets there in once piece and everything is good at the moment. I’m very happy with him.

“I don’t think Maximilian will ever be impressive in anything he does, but he keeps winning and that’s very important.

“He saves a bit for himself and those kind of horses go under the radar a bit, but that’s fine – that suits us.”

Maximilian team to skip Festival date in favour of Aintree

Donald McCain’s classy hurdler Maximilian will skip the Cheltenham Festival in favour of an Aintree outing.

The chestnut was a point-to-point winner and has looked highly promising since starting out under rules, winning two bumpers and his first two starts over hurdles.

Then stepped up in class for the Grade Two Winter Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown in December, the gelding was beaten for the first time in his career when third to Henri The Second.

He bounced right back to form the next time, however, tackling an extended three miles to win the Grade Two River Don at Doncaster at the end of January.

After that victory McCain suggested Cheltenham would not be a priority despite the horse holding an Albert Bartlett entry, with Aintree the preferred option later in the season.

Maximilian at Sandown
Maximilian at Sandown (Steven Paston/PA)

Dan Downie of Owners Group echoed that idea as the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, a Grade One run over three miles and half a furlong, looks to be the ultimate target.

He said: “He’s been going very well, everything is good with him and he’s come out of his race well.

“The plan will be to hopefully run at Aintree in April. That’s a little way away and we might find something in between, but Cheltenham is not happening and we know he won’t go there.

“We were really pleased with him at Doncaster. He’s a horse we’ve always liked but he’s a bit of a enigma in some ways, he’s not very flashy at home and he races quite lazily.

“You never quite know and at Sandown he was a bit disappointing, but I think that tacky ground just didn’t suit him and he was obviously much happier at Doncaster.

“I think he is a real stayer and that will be his game.”

Owners Group looking forward to festival targets

Success continues to breed success for the Owners Group syndicate, who enjoyed their most successful weekend to date with five winners last week.

Donald McCain’s Maximilian landed the Grade Two River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster and the Paul Nicholls-trained duo of Stage Star and Hacker Des Places claimed handicaps at Cheltenham.

They were supplemented by the victories of Unit Sixtyfour at Fontwell and Richhill at Southwell on Sunday for the microshare syndicate.

Dan Downie, racing manager of the syndicate, said: “It was a very good weekend. We’d had a slow start to January, like everybody because of the weather, and we thought it was going to be a busy weekend but to have five winners was extraordinary.

“Donald told me Maximilian got a bigger cheer coming back in than when he won the Grand National!”

Despite winning a notable trial for the Albert Bartlett, though, Maximilian will skip the Cheltenham Festival and wait for the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

“I loved the way he looks after himself, he’s not particularly flashy and he’s almost lazy the way he goes through a race but he jumped the last, came alive and he’s got a lot up his sleeve it looks like,” said Downie.

“Donald said he’d almost given up and I started to think that, but then Brian (Hughes) gave him a squeeze and he came back on the bridle again. He’s very good. He races like a real staying hurdler. He wouldn’t be the biggest in the world and while all options are open, he does look a staying hurdler at this stage.

“We’d spoken previously about where we’d like to end up this year and we’re happy to miss Cheltenham and aim for Aintree with him.”

Stage Star jumped impeccably at Cheltenham
Stage Star jumped impeccably at Cheltenham (David Davies/PA)

Stage Star, a Grade One-winning novice hurdler, looked a class apart when defying top weight in the usually informative Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

“Stage Star was very impressive. On a day like that when everything goes well, he looks very good,” said Downie.

“To be fair to him, he has had excuses when he’s been beaten but he looked a very good horse on Saturday. It’s not like he just throws the towel in.

“We’ve had brief conversations with Paul but nothing is concrete. He will go to Cheltenham but we haven’t discussed it more than that really.

“Hacker Des Places is very tough, too. He’s not very big but he’s a strong traveller, he jumps well and loves those big fields and hopefully the Betfair Hurdle should suit him down to the ground.

“The aim is to just keep going and not lose sight of everyone who is involved, that’s the point. It’s not to get them involved, it’s to keep them involved.

“The horses are selling really well and I hope it is giving people a chance to get involved as we know how expensive having a racehorse is. Hopefully it is doing the job for everyone.”

Maximilian promises plenty in the long term with Doncaster triumph

Graded winners are a little rarer these days for Donald McCain since the glory years of Peddlers Cross and Overturn, so he was cherishing the success of Maximilian in the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster.

Having lost his unbeaten record at Sandown last time out, McCain gave the seven-year-old a wind operation but openly admitted he thought it was going to be a big ask for his charge a long way from home on Town Moor.

Champion jockey Brian Hughes is that for a reason, though, and nursed the 13-2 chance into contention approaching the second-last in the Grade Two affair.

Hurricane Bay and Stay Away Fay were tough competition, but Maximilian stuck gamely to his task and prevailed by a length.

He was roared back into the paddock by scores of members of his Owners Group syndicate, a group who have supported McCain well.

McCain is not struck on a Cheltenham bid, however, and Aintree seems more likely.

“I nearly walked away with a circuit to run. He’s got that in him, he can switch off,” said McCain.

“He’s one of those staying hurdlers who races off the bridle and saves plenty for himself.

“If he’d gone clear he’d have probably pulled up, like those good staying hurdlers when he hits the front he thinks he’s done enough.”

Maximilian and jockey Brian Hughes with winning owners
Maximilian and jockey Brian Hughes with winning owners (Ricard Sellers/PA)

He went on: “He hated the ground at Sandown, he wasn’t right afterwards but he was still third in a Grade Two, we’ve always had a lot of faith in him but he’ll never be flash.

“We’ll go for a big novice, but I’m not a massive Cheltenham fan. He’s a long-term horse and I’ve not got hundreds of these. Aintree would be first choice, I think.

“He jumps like he’ll jump a fence, but I just wonder if he’s one of those real staying hurdlers.

“The Owners Group are great, I’m lucky to have a few for them. It’s the same wherever they run. It just works.”

Tommy’s Oscar with Ann and Ian Hamilton
Tommy’s Oscar with Ann and Ian Hamilton (Ricard Sellers/PA)

Tommy’s Oscar stamped his class on the MND Association Race For Research Lightning Novices’ Chase with a smooth performance.

A Grade Two winner over hurdles, he was just below the very best last season but promised to take high rank over fences.

A win at Carlisle and a second in a hot event at Cheltenham to Banbridge offered plenty of encouragement on that front, but reverting to hurdles for the Fighting Fifth did not quite work out.

Due to a lack of opportunities he was in a limited handicap at Newcastle most recently, conceding lumps of weight to Since Day One, who took him on at levels on this occasion and the tables were well and truly turned.

Tommy’s Oscar strides away from the last
Tommy’s Oscar strides away from the last (Ricard Sellers/PA)

Harry Fry’s favourite Boothill loomed to the front early in the straight but Danny McMenamin was full on confidence on Tommy’s Oscar (7-4) and came between horses pulling double.

Two good leaps at the last two fences sealed the deal by five and a half lengths for Ann and Ian Hamilton’s star.

“He wants better ground and a flat track. He wasn’t giving away loads of weight today, either,” said Ian Hamilton.

“He tends to jump right, but didn’t do that until the last today when he was in the clear.

“I don’t know what we do now, we may have to wait until Aintree. He’s not a Cheltenham horse. There’s nothing I can see that we can run him in, it’s been the case all season which was why he ran at Newcastle giving all that weight.

“Ann and I are getting on, we don’t want to be travelling with him to the other end of the country.

“We haven’t had a great season, our horses are badly handicapped, but this lad is good.”