Tag Archive for: Millers Bank

Hales to persevere over fences with Millers Bank

Connections of Millers Bank will keep him over fences once he recovers from a wind operation, despite the eight-year-old unseating Harry Bannister in his last two novice chases.

The Alex Hales-trained Passing Glance gelding won twice over hurdles last season and was not beaten far when third in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle in April.

Having scored with ease on his chasing debut at Huntingdon on his return to action in October, hopes were high that he would progress at a higher level.

However, he blundered away a Grade Two novices’ chase at Newbury when looking set to score and unseated Bannister for a second time in the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Hales said: “We are not going back over hurdles, but if you’d have asked me that immediately after the Cheltenham race, I think I would have said, ‘that’s a good idea’.

“If you watch the Cheltenham race, he jumps impeccably everywhere bar a trappy fourth-last – how many times have we seen it – and he just didn’t get his landing gear out. He went to save himself and Harry went out the side door.

“Newbury was a bit the same. I made a fool of myself before the race in an interview, because I said he had jumped more fences than Arkle, but he had. I don’t think, long-term, his jumping is a problem.

“He was quite a slow learner over hurdles and that is the same over fences.”

Millers Bank is convalescing after a minor wind operation and may not be seen out again until the end of February, according to his Edgcote-based handler.

“He has had a wind op,” added Hales. “We tinkered with it last year after he ran in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and he improved no end for that, so we have done exactly the same thing, and that means we won’t run for three weeks or a month.

“It may well lead us to whether or not we go to Cheltenham now. We may come up with a prep race and make Aintree our big target instead.

“It is sort of up in the air. Do we go to the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton (February 26), then go to Aintree after that? It is a bit of a loose one and nothing is set in stone.

“Timing-wise, the Pendil is quite good.

“I suppose the only other one, if you got him back early enough – but there is the threat of soft ground – is the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown (February 1).

“He has won on heavy but you can’t get away from the fact that he was much more efficient on better ground in the spring, especially when third in the Grade One at Aintree.

“I think we have had what we call a hiccough, or a bump in the road, but I’m pretty confident about his fencing.

For Pleasure is set to head to Doncaster at the end of the month
For Pleasure is set to head to Doncaster at the end of the month (David Davies/PA)

“Plus, the problem going hurdling is that he is only a novice until May. If you start going hurdling now and you are not good enough, then next year you’ve got to run in handicap chases off an elevated mark and you are either running in big-field handicap chases or having to go to Carlisle for the Colin Parker (Memorial Intermediate Chase) or something like that.

“He is only a novice, let’s treat him as that this year.

“On another day, he’d have won a Grade Two at Newbury and he would probably have finished second to Venetia Williams’ horse at Cheltenham (L’Homme Presse) and we’d be saying he’d have had a good season.”

For Pleasure could head to Doncaster
For Pleasure could head to Doncaster (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Meanwhile, last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle third, For Pleasure, who took the scalp of Grade Two Newbury novice chase winner Nassalam at Plumpton last month, will take a step up in class at Doncaster.

Hales said: “For Pleasure will go for the (Grade Two) Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster (January 29) and then we will see where we are after that. He’s in blinding form, in really good nick – we could run him tomorrow.

“We decided to space his season out a bit. Last season, bless him, he had nine runs before he ran in the Supreme and we are giving him a bit of an easier time this year. Ultimately, I’d like to end up at Aintree with him. We will probably have to take in Cheltenham as well.”

Hales to make late call on Kempton outing for Millers Bank

Alex Hales will wait until the last possible moment before deciding whether or not Millers Bank will take on Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame in the Grade One Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) at Kempton on Boxing Day.

A close-up third in the Aintree Hurdle in April, the seven-year-old produced a faultless display of jumping on his seasonal and chasing debut at Huntingdon, but unseated Harry Bannister two out when left in front in a four-runner Grade Two novices’ chase at Newbury last month, a race won by Nassalam.

While Millers Bank has the option of going up in trip to three miles at Kempton, the Edgcote trainer admits he could wait a week for Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase over two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

“Lucinda (Russell) seems pretty set on coming down now with Ahoy Senor and you have (the Paul Nicholls-trained) Bravemansgame who definitely runs, and they are going to run Threeunderthrufive as well.

“I am just thinking of what might run in the Dipper outside of My Drogo.

“There aren’t that many high-quality chases over three miles, but on the other hand, should there be?”

Hales laughed: “We really need to be forced to take each other on – and here’s me trying to swerve Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor and cherry-pick a win, where perhaps we should just throw our hat in the ring.”

Millers Bank looked certain to win when the Nicholls-trained Pic D’Orhy fell four out at Newbury and with that one franking the form by taking the Grade Two Noel Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Friday, Hales has every faith that Millers Bank can bounce back.

“At Newbury, his jumping caught us on the hop a bit,” said his trainer.

“At Huntingdon on debut, his jumping was just sublime.

“He was very cold over the first three at Newbury, then he jumped well and got into a rhythm.

“Harry (Bannister) and I are in agreement – Paul’s horse fell and he got left in front and that was probably his weakness. He just had a bit to learn and was a bit inexperienced.

“He has schooled extensively since and he has been very good – and schooled this morning.

“He’ll definitely get three miles and he’ll have more of a chance to get in a better rhythm too, but I’m still undecided at the moment.”

Hales considers options for Millers Bank

Exciting novice chaser Millers Bank could head to Ascot on a recovery mission after blundering away a winning chance at Newbury on Friday.

The Alex Hales-trained seven-year-old looked sure to score when left in the lead four out in a Grade Two at the Berkshire venue, but unseated Harry Bannister at the penultimate fence, leaving Nassalam to win with ease.

Hopes were high last season’s Aintree Hurdle third would build upon a winning chase debut at Huntingdon, but now the Edgcote handler is having to re-think his options.

Hales said: “He seems absolutely fine after the race, albeit a little quiet. Physically he was fine. It was a nasty shock for him, his trainer and his jockey!

“To be honest, and this will sound very cocky, the plan was to win that race and then go Ascot for the Howden Noel Novices’ Chase, a Grade Two on December 17th, or he would go to Kempton for the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day, but if I’m honest, my plans are slightly up in the air.

“At the moment, I’m half thinking we might go for the (Paddy Power) Dipper Novices’ Chase (on New Year’s Day), but there is a worry about the ground. It might be heavy and he doesn’t want very soft ground.

“I think I’d like to go to Ascot, but we are ground dependent and from every turn now, it is going to be soft ground.

“He wants a little bit of juice and while he has won on heavy, he doesn’t really want heavy ground.”

Hales is keen for Tuesday’s runaway Doncaster winner Nextdoortoalice to take a step up in class after she scooted to a 10-length victory in the Virgin Bet Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

He added: “She is a nice horse but she probably won a poor race. It is a case of whether we sit low or whether we go for a Listed Hurdle for fillies at Haydock just before Christmas – that can cut up a bit and she might have the opportunity to pick up a bit of Black Type. Ideally, that is what we’d want.”

Alex Hales harbouring high hopes for Millers Bank

Millers Bank bids to follow up his impressive chasing debut success when taking on three rivals in the Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Novices’ Chase at Newbury on Friday.

The seven-year-old was a close-up third in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle on his final run last term and produced an 11-length success on his seasonal and chasing bow at Huntington last month.

Having won four of his eight starts over hurdles, Alex Hales is hopeful the son of Passing Glance will make it two from two over fences in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two contest, where each of his three rivals were also successful on their respective seasonal debuts.

Hales said: “He was very exciting at Huntingdon and we’re really looking forward to it.

“He’s a truly exciting horse, he was third in a Grade One at Aintree in April and he did nothing wrong at Huntingdon.

“This is the obvious next step for him but it is a tight contest.

“The ground should be fine, they’re calling it good to soft, good in places, so it should be absolutely perfect.

“The best run of his life was at Aintree on decent ground, so it should be fine.”

Nassalam was on the mark at Ascot on his return
Nassalam was on the mark at Ascot on his return (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Though facing only three rivals, all look promising novice chasers, with the Gary Moore-trained Nassalam bidding to follow up his chasing debut success at Ascot over an extra furlong.

The youngest of the quartet, he receives weight from his rivals.

“He put in a good performance at Ascot on his first run of the season and I was highly delighted with him,” said Moore.

“He will have to put in a better one this time, as it is a stronger race.

“No race is an easy one, but the ground won’t be any excuse if he’s beaten. I galloped horses around Newbury the other day and it is the nicest ground I have been on all year.

“There is plenty of moisture in it and someone told me it was a selected area for horses galloping, but I don’t know how true that was, and while I’m sure he would like it softer, it is generally pretty even ground round there.

“He has age on his side, as he is only four, and that is why he is in the race, because he gets 9lb, which is very handy.”

Paul Nicholls’ Pic D’Orhy is the most experienced in the line-up, having had five spins over fences, winning the last of those, beating three rivals over two miles and five furlongs at Ffos Las last month.

“He won from the front in pleasing style on his return to chasing at Ffos Las in October. He won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in 2020, so we know he is suited by a flat track and the trip of two and a half miles is another plus,” the trainer told his Betfair blog.

“I’ve had this race in mind for Pic D’Orhy since Ffos Las and expect another decent show from him.”

The Tom Lacey-trained Tea Clipper, who jumped well when taking a Listed novices’ chase on his seasonal and chasing debut at Chepstow, heads the weights and is asked to concede 5lb and upwards to his three rivals in the £28,457 to-the-winner contest.

Jonbon makes his hurdles debut
Jonbon makes his hurdles debut (David Davies/PA)

All eyes will be on Jonbon in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle.

The full brother to multiple Grade One winner Douvan – who had changed hands for a record £570,000 at the sales last November after a point-to-point win – makes his eagerly-awaited debut over the smaller obstacles for Nicky Henderson.

The five-year-old won a bumper at Newbury in March and is out to enhance a lofty reputation against seven rivals, despite Henderson admitting there is a degree of pressure for the inexperienced five-year-old.

However, owner JP McManus’ racing manager, Frank Berry, believes that the son of Walk In The Park will acquit himself well in the extended two-mile heat.

Berry said: “I don’t know why he’d be feeling the pressure. He is a grand horse and seems to be pleasing Nicky. Hopefully, he will go out there and put up a nice performance.

“The ground should be fine. He’s a nice, big horse and is a good mover, and we’d be hopeful that he will run a nice race.”

Boothill will start over fences at Newbury
Boothill will start over fences at Newbury (Adam Davy/PA)

Seven line up for what promises to be a fascinating Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boosts Chase (Novices’ Limited Handicap) for the Fulke Walwyn Trophy over two miles.

Third in a well-contested Listed handicap hurdle at Ascot last month, Harry Fry has been keen to send six-year-old Boothill, a son of Presenting, novice chasing.

Fry admitted: “We want to start Boothill over fences and we think he is very talented horse. We were just waiting on the ground and it seems as though it will have enough juice in it, but we will have a look in the morning.

“He is lightly raced and what we have seen from him has been very promising.

“He won his bumper well and his first start over hurdles, and he wasn’t fully wound up on his seasonal debut at Ascot. He did plenty wrong and was very keen, but it was a good run against more experienced performers.

“The schooling he has done, he has done nicely and we think he is a fine, big horse who has always looked like he has the potential to be progressive.

“Hopefully, with a clear run, he will become a flag-bearer for the yard.”

Among his rivals is Solo, who was a fine second to Nassalam on his chasing debut at Ascot.