Tag Archive for: Richard Hobson

Haydock double on Lord Du Mesnil’s agenda

Richard Hobson’s Lord Du Mesnil will seek to defend his Haydock Grand National Trial title via a tilt at the Peter Marsh Chase.

The nine-year-old was the runner up in the Grade Three Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day, coming home a length and three-quarters behind Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Good Boy Bobby.

The performance marked a return to form for the gelding, who had not completed a race since his victory in the Grand National Trial at Haydock last year.

The latter race is on the agenda for the horse come February, but first he will head for the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase at the same track at the end of the month.

“He’s in even better order than that, he was just coming to hand on Boxing Day and we’ve got him just right, as long as we get the rub of the green now,” Hobson said.

“He goes next to the Peter Marsh and then the Grand National Trial, he’ll be taking on Royale Pagaille and I’d really fancy him because obviously he won’t be lugging top weight around there.

“We’ll go back to Haydock then probably to Auteuil or maybe Cheltenham.

“He’s won over £200,000 now in prize money and it’s not about constantly racing him, it’s about trying to win one big race a year if we can.”

Hobson will continue to look for a winning opportunity for his veteran chaser Valadom, who was fifth in the final race of the Veterans Chase Series at Sandown on Saturday.

The front-running grey has developed something of a fan base for his gung-ho manner of running and still seems to retain his enthusiasm at the age of 13.

Hobson felt the going at Sandown was softer than the gelding would have liked and explained that his wind has often prevented him from throwing down a challenge in the closing stages of a race.

“It was touch and go whether he was ever going to run because he doesn’t like that ground, no matter what, and he never has in his whole career,” he said.

“He was always going to get a little bit tired but we thought he might hold on, I thought Lilly (Pinchin) gave him a brilliant ride, though she got a little bit criticised for not giving him a breather or going too quick.

“That’s his way of going and it’s hard to give a horse a breather in those conditions.

“What stops him at the end of a race is his wind, his wind has never been 100 per cent.

“That’s why he’s better on better ground because his wind doesn’t affect him as much.

“It wasn’t Lilly’s fault, he chokes at the end of a race and no matter what procedure we’ve done over the years, it’s always been the same.

“It was a great run, we’ll go back to Newbury now and see if we can go out on a win.”

Richard Hobson's Valadom
Richard Hobson’s Valadom (Steven Paston/PA)

Hobson has previously said that the 13-year-old would retire if he landed the Sandown race, but that decision would have been led more by sentiment and less by any decline in Valadom’s zest for his job.

“He doesn’t want to retire, the reason I said I’d retire him is because it was £52,000 to the winner and if he’d have won that, what more can he actually do?” Hobson said.

“He’s already won £110,000 so it would just be a nice way to go out.”

Cheltenham option for Riders Onthe Storm

Riders Onthe Storm could head for Cheltenham on New Year’s Day after his gallant second at Aintree.

The eight-year-old was a Grade One winner in 2020 when taking the Ascot Chase but seemed to then lose his way and has not won since.

Connections switched the gelding from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable to the yard of Richard Hobson earlier this year, with his Aintree effort his first for his new trainer.

Despite carrying top-weight, Riders Onthe Storm looked the winner for much of the contest only for his welter burden to tell close home and he ended up being claimed by Clan Legend.

“It was probably a drop in class with his ability but, after a whole season in the darkness and not performing, it’s just nice to see him back to his enthusiastic self,” said Hobson.

“It was very windy. Nick (Scholfield) said the crosswind hit him and made him jump a little bit right but he still jumped very well.”

“We felt that he was good enough to win on the day but that there’s still a little bit of improvement in him and that suggests he’ll come on for the run.

“He might go to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day for a handicap chase there over two miles and four (furlongs).

“He’s extremely well, he’s ready to go again really but we want to make sure his runs are nicely spaced out.”

Lord seeks to complete long-range Aintree mission

Richard Hobson is looking to Lord Du Mesnil to give his dual bloodstock and training operations a boost by realising a long-term plan in the Randox Grand National.

The eight-year-old was the winner of Haydock’s Grand National Trial in February – beating Venetia Williams’ Achille by half-a-length under Paul O’Brien, having finished second last year.

A previous run in the Grand Sefton Chase in December was Lord Du Mesnil’s chance to familiarise himself with the unique Aintree fences, and the Cheltenham Festival was purposefully overlooked to leave him fresh and primed for the National.

“Aintree has always been the plan – that’s why he had a prep run over the National fences in the Sefton, over a shorter trip,” said Hobson.

“He’s a staying chaser, and this is the biggest staying chase of the year.

“That’s what he’s turned into, he’s proven that.

“He’s won over three-and-a-half miles on two occasions. It’s always been the target, and now his handicap mark has gone from 115 to 154.”

Hobson is well versed in the unpredictability of the race, with his first National runner hampered when travelling well in 2018 and eventually pulled up by James Bowen.

“It’s a lottery, isn’t it?” said the Cotswolds trainer.

“You need luck in running, and it all needs to go in your favour on the day.

“We’ve had one runner in it, Shantou Flyer. He was second in the Ultima (Chase at Cheltenham) two weeks before, but he got knocked sideways at the Canal Turn.

“Otherwise, he was actually going along quite well at the back.

“You need a bit of luck and a clean run round. He’d (Lord Du Mesnil) need a bit of juice in the ground for him as well.”

Hobson’s charge will be partnered by National first-timer Paul O’Brien.

“We’re going into it with Paul having his first ride,” added Hobson.

“I wanted to stand by him, even though he’s a novice having his first ride in the race.

“If the horse could get round and run a big race and finish in the first five, we’ll be delighted.

“If we could be the best of the British, I’d take that!”

Alongside his training licence, Hobson is also heavily involved in the bloodstock industry and was responsible for the sourcing of prolific French-bred horses such as Acapella Bourgeois, Petit Mouchoir – and 22-time Grade One winner Hurricane Fly.

His Little Rissington yard houses only 20 horses in training, with the mainstay of his business being the young stock he produces and sells – often seeing them end up in the hands of rival trainers.

Hurricane Fly was sourced by Richard Hobson
Hurricane Fly was sourced by Richard Hobson (Brian Lawless/PA)

A victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase could be enough to turn those tables, with Hobson hoping such a high-profile winner may persuade owners to retain his training services once his role as a bloodstock agent is complete.

“We only have 20 horses in training – we’re not a big yard,” he said.

“We do sales as well and we produce young horses, which we sell on.

“It’d be nice to get a little bit more of a high profile for us. Then maybe some of these nice youngsters that go to other trainers and get moved on from here, we’ll be able to keep them.

“We’re always looking to get new owners and people to back you – but certainly since I’ve started training, the bloodstock side of things has paid for the job.

“Until somebody comes along, a big backer or an owner who wants to put four or five horses with us, that’ll continue to be the way things go.”

There is no bigger stage in National Hunt racing than the Grand National, and the fixture ranks highly on Hobson’s list of career aspirations.

“It’s right up there,” he said.

“For a small yard like us, it’s our big day, isn’t it?”

Itchy Feet aiming to book Festival ticket at Haydock

Itchy Feet could earn himself a crack at the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle with a bold showing at Haydock on Saturday.

Olly Murphy’s stable star reverts to the smaller obstacles for the William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle, having run exclusively over fences since October 2019, and also tests his stamina at three miles for the first time.

Earlier this season, the seven-year-old finished third in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and second in the 1965 Chase at Ascot, before returning to the latter venue to finish second in a conditions chase a couple of months ago.

He suffered a broken blood vessel on his most recent outing, but Murphy expects to have a clearer idea of potential targets for the spring after this weekend’s Grade Two event.

He said: “He’s in good form and should handle the ground fine.

“Going over three miles for the first time is going to be a big question, but I think he’ll stay. I’ve wanted to run him over three miles for a while – he gets a nice weight allowance off a few horses in the race, and I’m looking forward to running him.

“He’d have to be running very well to warrant running in a Stayers’ Hurdle, but if he wins or runs very well that’s the route we’ll take.”

Itchy Feet is set to face seven rivals on Merseyside, including last year’s winner Emitom – who also switches back to hurdles following a spell chasing for Warren Greatrex.

David Pipe saddles bargain-buy Main Fact, who rattled off nine successive victories in 2020, the most recent of which came in the Grade Three Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle over this course and distance in November.

Main Fact has been a real money-spinner for his connections
Main Fact has been a real money-spinner for his connections (Tim Goode/PA)

The Pond House handler believes the eight-year-old is better than he showed when tailed off in the Long Walk at Ascot on his latest appearance.

“He’ll love the ground, and we think he might be a little bit better going back left-handed,” said Pipe.

“I’m not sure he ran his true race at Ascot, but he was beaten a long way. We’ll find out on Saturday if he’s better than that.

“It looks a competitive race, and there’s a few with question marks. Our horse is in good form at home, and it will be interesting.”

Rebecca Curtis will be hoping a wind operation can help last year’s shock Stayers’ Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar bounce back from a couple of ordinary efforts so far this term, with Nicky Henderson’s On The Blind Side another to consider in an open contest.

Ramses de Teillee in winning action at Cheltenham
Ramses de Teillee in winning action at Cheltenham (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The most valuable race on the card is the £75,000 William Hill Grand National Trial.

Pipe is represented by top-weight Ramses De Teillee, who was last seen finishing down the field in the Welsh Grand National.

“He made a mistake at the first fence at Chepstow and was always on the back foot after that,” said the trainer.

“He’s won at Haydock before, and conditions will suit. He’s got a lot of weight – so we’re taking 5lb off, with Fergus Gillard on board.

“If he turns up on his A-game then he’s got an each-way chance.”

Other contenders include Welsh Grand National runner-up The Two Amigos, and a pair of course-and-distance winners in Lord Du Mesnil and Perfect Candidate.

Lord Du Mesnil was beaten a long way in the Welsh National, but trainer Richard Hobson is optimistic of an improved performance.

He said: “It doesn’t really matter how fast they go. The thing is when it’s heavy ground, nothing’s going to go faster than him anyway.

“Obviously, we’ve had a few issues with him since Cheltenham (last spring), but he seems to be going the right way now.

“If he gets his ground at the weekend, and the way he’s been working, I would say he’d have a big shout.”

Perfect Candidate loves Haydock
Perfect Candidate loves Haydock (Mike Egerton/PA)

Perfect Candidate is in the twilight of his career at the age of 14, but proved he is no back number when winning at Haydock for the second time in November.

Trainer Fergal O’Brien said: “We’re looking forward to running him. There can’t be many 14-year-olds rated as high as he is now.

“If he can get round then he won’t be a million miles away. I suppose it all depends on if he can keep up with them.

“He owes us absolutely nothing. He loves Haydock, and Paddy (Brennan) knows him very well.”

Hobson planning health checks for Mesnil after Chepstow run

Lord Du Mesnil is to undergo tests after suffering from post-race heat stress following the Welsh National.

Trainer Richard Hobson is determined to discover the root of the problem before making any future plans for his smart long-distance chaser.

Lord Du Mesnil first had an issue when he was runner-up in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in March, and again overheated after he finished ninth at Chepstow on Saturday.

“It was obviously a bit disappointing to see him do that again, but we’re going to take some tests this week to see if there’s something lacking,” said Hobson.

“He shouldn’t have run, though. I walked the course, and it was disappointing for me to have him in good order and run him on ground that didn’t suit.

“He wants it like a bog. He wants proper soft conditions, and he didn’t get it. The covers clearly did a good job.”

A return to soft or heavy ground will therefore be prescribed, but not before Hobson has thoroughly investigated the reasons for his heat stress.

“When this horse started winning races, that was his asset,” added the Cotswolds trainer.

“He was able to gallop through deep ground at Newcastle, at Haydock and when he was second at Cheltenham, when other horses couldn’t.

“I want to do a few tests on him. I want to make sure I understand a little bit more why he’s overheating, so we need to get that sorted.”

Hobson has another exciting prospect in De Forgotten One, who won a qualifier for the Northern Lights Middle Distance Chase Series at Catterick.

The seven-year-old had previously run third to Some Neck over Cheltenham’s cross-country course.

“He’s gone up 10lb, and the Topham is his long-term aim,” said Hobson.

“He’s had four runs for us, the first two in France. He’s young, he’s very exciting, very professional and as good a jumper as you’ll see. He has a big future.”