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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.”