Tag Archive for: Paul Webber

Indefatigable disappointment put into perspective for Webber

The untimely death of prominent racing and eventing veterinarian Terry Horgan on Sunday has put racing into perspective for trainer Paul Webber.

Horgan, who had 44 years’ experience as a vet (FEI), rider and owner, had lunch with Webber and owner Philip Rocher at Newbury on Friday, ahead of Indefatigable’s run in the Grade Two Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle.

On Sunday, the Irishman was killed in a tragic accident, which is under investigation by Thames Valley Police.

Webber said: “Terry Horgan was a prominent horse racing vet and was very well known in the eventing world.

“So, what happened to Indefatigable on Friday pales into insignificance.”

Indefatigable, winner of the Grade Two bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on her penultimate start, was last of six to Thomas Darby at Newbury and while she holds an entry in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, the Mollington-based trainer may instead head elsewhere with the eight-year-old.

Webber said: “Nothing has come to light. From the moment Daryl (Jacob) got on her, he said she didn’t feel like the filly he’d rode at Wetherby at all. She had passed all her pre-race stuff and had been pleasing us at home.

“We’ve been through with a fine tooth comb – she has been scoped, we have checked her blood, checked her ovaries – and she cantered very nicely this morning (Tuesday).

“She just didn’t seem to want to be at the races on Friday for some reason. It is impossible to put one’s finger on it.

“She is in the Long Walk Hurdle, but she has been dropped 3lb, so it might be more sensible to go back to Cheltenham, which is a track she has always done well at, in a mares’ handicap hurdle on December 11. That is a possibility.

“It was just one of those days. When you hear news like we did about Terry, racing is so incidental.”

Horgan’s death has cast a shadow over the equestrian community in and around Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, where he was based.

Julia Horning, who owns Classic Dressage International, a company that purchases and trains dressage horses, has known Horgan for over two decades.

She said: “Terry was based in Buckinghamshire, and worked for himself.

“He has been our vet for 20 years. He had an illustrious career as a horse rider when he was a young man – he rode around Badminton and was on the Irish team – and he was a proper horseman.

“He worked for a practice for many years and worked for himself for the past two years. It was an accident and is in the hands of the police.

“It is a great loss for hundreds of people that used him and had a relationship with him. He was a very kind, generous and knowledgeable person. It is a tremendous loss.”

Thames Valley Police said in a statement: “Thames Valley Police was called at around 9.45am on Sunday (28/11) to Crafton Lodge Road.

“Sadly, a man in his seventies died at the scene. His next of kin has been informed.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious. Enquiries are ongoing to establish what happened and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”

Indefatigable on course for Paisley Park rematch

Paul Webber feels Indefatigable will have to find improvement to land Friday’s Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, the eight-year-old mare enters the three-mile contest on the back of a authoritative victory in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby.

Indefatigable is currently 7-2 second-favourite with the race sponsors behind former Stayers’ Hurdle winner Paisley Park, whom she had behind her at Wetherby, and Webber is hopeful she will acquit herself well and frank that form.

Webber said: “The plan is Friday. Indefatigable seems very well. It is obviously going to be a bit more difficult for her than it was at Wetherby, at the weights with the penalty, but she is in very good form.

“We were very pleased with her at Wetherby. She didn’t go up in the handicap and the handicapper didn’t necessarily rate the race too highly, but we don’t mind that.

“It does look a strong race and we are 6lb worse off than we were, so she is obviously going to have to improve again, but she deserves her shot.

“After that run, much depends on what sort of winter we have, because she doesn’t want very soft ground. We are just hoping we can get past Newbury and then make a plan, depending on what the weather does.”

Newbury on Webber’s radar for Indefatigable

Paul Webber has a Newbury date pencilled in for his high-quality staying hurdler Indefatigable.

The eight-year-old was last seen winning the Grade Two West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, starting at 5-1 and crossing the line two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Dan Skelton’s Proschema, with 11-4 favourite Paisley Park back in third.

Webber reports the mare to be faring well following the victory and is now considering another Grade Two contest in the shape of the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on November 26 – where she could clash again with Paisley Park.

“She’s back and doing a couple of canters,” he said.

“We’re keeping our eye on the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle on the Friday of the Newbury meeting.

“She’s in great form, though the handicapper didn’t move her so maybe he feels like other horses in the race weren’t at their optimum.

“Not that a handicap mark will make a great deal of difference to where she runs, it’s interesting that he took the view that it was just an OK race, but we were obviously thrilled with her.

“She’ll get a 6lb penalty at Newbury but she’s just going to have to face that.”

The Wetherby performance followed a winning run on the Flat, with the mare successful on her debut under the other code when triumphing over a mile and a half at Pontefract in early October.

Another Flat run could be on the cards for Indefatigable should the ground become too soft for a tilt at the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, after which the mare would become eligible for handicap contests on the level.

“I’d imagine it would be too soft by the time Ascot comes around for the Long Walk, in which case we might keep her ticking over on the all-weather,” said Webber.

“There’s a conditions race at Newcastle on the December 10 which would then give her a Flat handicap mark, so that might be an option if plans have to change due to the weather.”

When conditions improve in the new year, Webber will have options in both the mares’ and stayers’ hurdles at all the big spring festivals, with a summer target of the two-mile-three-furlong Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting in June.

“That’s the hope and that’s what we dream of,” he said of the plan.

“She’s a late-developing filly so we hope we might have a few more seasons with her as well.”

Indefatigable delivers in bet365 Hurdle

Paul Webber’s Indefatigable became the third mare in five years to win the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby.

Registered as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, the race gives the top-class staying hurdlers an early chance to get back in action and this time it was former champion Paisley Park who attracted most of the pre-race attention.

While Emma Lavelle’s nine-year-old hit his customary flat spot going down the back straight, he did stay on over the last quarter of a mile to finish a respectable third, but the bird had flown by then.

Daryl Jacob had ridden a patient race on Indefatigable, who herself had won at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020, and took up the running at the second last.

However, Harry Skelton had stalked her into the straight on Proschema, who briefly looked to be travelling better.

Webber had sent Indefatigable to Pontefract for a race on the Flat, which she won, earlier this month, though and that fitness told as she came away to win two and three-quarter lengths with two and a half lengths back to Paisley Park.

Roksana last year and the Fergal O’Brien-trained Colin’s Sister in 2017 are the other mares to recently take the prize.

Webber said: “We thought we’d stay wide as the ground was a bit better and it suits her too. It couldn’t have worked out any better.

“It depends on the weather entirely what we do. If it was dry she could go to Newbury for the Long Distance Hurdle, but she’s a mare and I must try to win a Grade One with her.

“It will probably be too wet by the Long Walk in December and the Ascot plan might be the Ascot Stakes in June. She just needs another run to get a handicap mark.

“She does thrive in the spring and summer. You could probably do the Mares’ or the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, maybe Punchestown, then you have still got six weeks before Ascot.”

Barry Fenton, Lavelle’s partner and assistant, said of Paisley Park: “Aidan (Coleman) said that he was a little bit rusty off the back of a disappointing run last time.

Indefatigable jumps the last clear of Proschema
Indefatigable jumps the last clear of Proschema (Tim Goode/PA)

“Through the race he said he didn’t feel 100 per cent and he thought, jumping the fourth last down the back, that that could be it and he might even pull him up.

“Then he said once he got a bit of clear water, he’s started to pick up and he’s run a good race then, but the race had gone.

“I think it’s looking like we’ll head for Newbury, that’s what Aidan said, he feels we should go that route and hopefully we’ll get the end result there and we can decide whether we go chasing or if we’re a stayers’ horse.

“If he comes out of this race all right and has a good prep, he’ll go to Newbury with no excuses and he’ll have to do the job there.”

Coleman said: “He was a bit rusty. On his last two runs last year he was pulled up at Aintree and had a very hard race at Cheltenham and he was remembering that a bit.

“It was looking like it was going to be a disaster turning in, but from the third last to the line he’s actually finished really strong. Those are the positives.

“He not the horse he’s been showing us at home at the moment, but I think he’ll be back with that run under his belt and a better experience he can go forward.”

Webber wants Wetherby to stay dry for Indefatigable

Paul Webber is one trainer who is hoping a deluge stays away from Wetherby before the bet365 Hurdle – in which he is set to run Indefatigable.

A Cheltenham Festival winner in 2020, Indefatigable had a recent run on the Flat at Pontefract – and it was a successful mission, as she stayed on well to win by half a length.

Saturday’s Grade Two, known as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, is set to feature former Stayers’ Hurdle winner Paisley Park – but with her allowances, Webber’s mare will receive plenty of weight.

“I hope we don’t get too much rain, but the intention is to run,” said Webber.

“We managed to get a run on the Flat into her, and the thinking behind that was that in the past she’s tended to be better in the spring.

“This year we wanted to crank her up a little bit earlier, so we went to Pontefract, which worked out great, and hopefully it’s a springboard to the autumn.

“Looking at her rating and given the allowances she gets, she’s not far away from the best of them.”

Aintree and Sandown options for Indefatigable

Indefatigable is to seek a big-race success at either Aintree or Sandown following a creditable effort in the Grade One Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Trainer Paul Webber will look at running the eight-year-old in the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Liverpool Hurdle) at Aintree on April 10 or the bet365 Select Hurdle at Sandown on the final day of the jumps’ season, two weeks later.

The Banbury handler believes Indefatigable can landed a graded prize to add to her two Listed successes over hurdles.

Webber was pleased with her run at Cheltenham, where she had taken the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in 2020, but felt the rain the previous weekend did not help her.

“It was a very good run. It was just that 10 millimetres of rain they had at the weekend didn’t help, it made the ground deader than she would have liked,” he said.

“If it had been better ground she might have gone past Roksana. She was running on at the end.

“She’s come out of it well and she seems great.

“We’ll look at Aintree for the three-mile Liverpool Hurdle, but if that looks too frightening we might leave her for Sandown, a two-mile-five-and-a-half furlong Grade Two, on the last day of the season.

“I’m sure we can win a Grade Two. I just hope we might be able to sneak a Grade One one day. She’s getting there. Improving spring ground would be ideal for her.”

Webber hoping for dry spell to help Indefatigable’s Festival bid

Paul Webber is praying the weather dries up in time for Cheltenham to give Indefatigable the chance to maintain her fine record at the home of jump racing.

She has put in top performances in all her four races there – winning twice, including when producing a career-best to claim the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at last year’s Festival.

Webber is hoping for more of the same in the Grade One Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, formerly known as the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, as long as the ground improves.

“She’s in very good form. We’re just hoping that the ‘well dries out’,” said the Banbury trainer.

“She’s in the Mares’ Hurdle and she loves Cheltenham. If it was good ground, I’m sure we’d see the proper Indefatigable. That’s the plan.

“Her form there is unbelievable when the ground is good.”

Indefatigable has yet to produce her best form this season, and Webber is happy to draw a line through her last run when she was well-beaten in the Relkeel Hurdle – which was switched to Kempton after Cheltenham was abandoned because of waterlogging.

“She ran at Kempton and hated the ground, and I don’t think we rode her right,” he said.

“We put the gun to her head too soon, and Richie (McLernon) went the long way round on the outside, piling on the pressure – and I think it wore her out.

“The ground is still too soft for her. We need it to dry out, like it did last year for the last race on the Friday.”

Festival heroine Indefatigable in line for weekend Cheltenham return

Indefatigable is on course to return to the scene of her finest hour with an outing in the Close Brothers’ Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The seven-year-old gave her trainer Paul Webber his first Festival winner when coming late to claim the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles in March.

She tried three miles for the first time at Kempton last month when third in a Listed contest behind Bannixtown Glory. In hindsight, Webber wished their tactics had been more positive.

“It’s more than likely she’ll go to Cheltenham,” said the Banbury handler.

“She’s got a lot of weight, but there’s nothing else for her at the moment and she always runs well there so I think that is probably the best place to go.

“She ran fine at Kempton. We probably didn’t make enough use of her. It turned into a sprint.

“Because it was her first time over three miles we were probably a bit tentative and she ended up not having a hard race.”

Webber has stablemate House Island entered in the Jockey Club Cheltenham SW Syndicate Novices’ Chase on Saturday, but is leaning towards sending the horse to Doncaster on the same afternoon.

The bet365 December Novices’ Chase is over three miles, compared to an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham, but Webber has no concerns about the longer distance.

“He’s more likely to go to Doncaster than Cheltenham, I think at the moment,” said Webber.

“There are quite a few of them in both races, but I think Doncaster might be where we go.

“He ran well over further as a hurdler so hopefully he’s about ready for it now.”

House Island got off the mark over fences at the second attempt at Ludlow last month.

All eyes on Shishkin as Supreme hero makes chasing bow

Nicky Henderson is looking forward to seeing Shishkin get his career over fences under way at Kempton Park on Monday.

Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner will be a warm order to dispatch of four rivals in the two-and-a-quarter-mile Racing TV Beginners’ Chase – the same race in which his esteemed stablemate Altior made a successful chasing debut four years ago.

Henderson said: “It’s a nice introductory track to go to first time over fences. Shishkin has done lots of schooling and he has been very good at it, but he has got to do it on a racecourse now like any other horse.

“He should be all right as he has done nothing wrong, that’s for sure. There has not been one of his calibre we have sent chasing for a couple of years.

“Everything that possibly could go wrong in the Supreme went wrong. He and Nico (de Boinville) did an amazing job to get back into the race when you consider he was all but in the car park at one stage – it was a great performance.

“It is the same race that Altior started in. There are one or two of ours that have needed a run, but hopefully he should be fine.”

Shishkin is taken on by the Paul Nicholls-trained Mick Pastor, Olly Murphy’s Sangha River, Brian Barr’s At Its Own Expense and Battle Anthem from Richard Rowe’s yard.

The feature event on the card is the Listed Racing TV Mares’ Hurdle, in which Paul Webber’s Cheltenham Festival heroine Indefatigable is the star attraction.

Indefatigable returns to the jumping game at Kempton
Indefatigable returns to the jumping game at Kempton (Nigel French/PA)

The seven-year-old has not been seen over jumps since claiming a last-gasp victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in March, but did recently finish down the field in a Listed race on the all-weather at Lingfield.

Webber said: “We were thinking about running her over hurdles at Wetherby a few weeks ago, but we didn’t want to bottom her on soft ground, so we ran her on the all-weather instead.

“We always knew she’d lose ground at the stalls, but she ran on well and wasn’t beaten much further than the ground she lost at the start. She had a nice blow, so I hope that should put her spot on for Monday.

“I haven’t really thought beyond this race – it’s hard enough getting one thing right! She wouldn’t want winter, heavy ground, so we’ll pick our way a little bit.”

Webber favouring Lingfield option for Indefatigable return

Indefatigable is likely to return to action on the Flat ahead of a jumps campaign, for which the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham is the ultimate objective.

Trainer Paul Webber is set declare the seven-year-old for the Ladbrokes Football Acca Booster EBF River Eden Fillies’ Stakes, a Listed contest over one mile and five furlongs on the Polytrack.

She also holds an entry in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday, but Webber fears the ground will be too soft for Indefatigable on what would be her first try at three miles.

The mare is already a dual Listed winner over the smaller obstacles and claimed the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at last season’s Festival over an extended two and a half miles.

She has yet to run on the Flat, although she did win a bumper at Southwell on her first start for Webber in April 2018 before she went hurdling.

“The thinking at the moment is we are worried about the forecast for Wetherby,” said the Banbury handler.

“I think we’ll probably go to Lingfield rather than go three miles for the first time on ground softer than is ideal for her.

“We’ll probably declare her for Lingfield and Jim Crowley has been booked to ride her.

“I think that’s what we’ll do because she certainly wants better ground. Her only disappointing run last year was at Sandown on heavy ground and I think we’ll try to avoid that for as long as we can.”

Webber had thought of giving Indefatigable her first taste of Flat racing at Royal Ascot, but had to scrap that plan as the mare was under the weather.

“We were going to run her in the Ascot Stakes, but she didn’t scope right before then, so she had a holiday and this is a suitable starting point,” he went on.

“The Stayers’ Hurdle will be the plan and she’ll be entered in the mares’ hurdle over two and a half as well. We’ll just have to see how things go, but she is better on better ground.

“I don’t want to pull her about first time out over further. There are some nice hurdle races coming up in three weeks’ time if she has a nice prep at Lingfield.”