Tag Archive for: St moritz

Middleham Park team savouring St Moritz challenge with Mordred

Middleham Park Racing owners will experience one of the most unique spectacles in the sport when they travel to the famous White Turf meeting in Switzerland to watch Mordred take on the Grosser Preis von St Moritz.

The Milton Harris-trained gelding has already triumphed twice on the snow, firstly taking the Grosser Preis Longines on February 6, a race trimmed down to just four furlongs after doubts about the safety of the track in the back straight.

Having only run over a minimal distance, Harris then adapted his plans slightly and entered the six-year-old in the Grosser Preis Longines on Sunday and the horse duly won by three-quarters of a length under Sibylle Vogt.

The Swiss spell will come to a climax this weekend when Mordred lines up for the Grosser Preis von St Moritz, a race worth the equivalent of £80,000 and one that will be witnessed by a group of travelling owners.

The foray has been the work of Harris, whose experience of the meeting has proved invaluable in allowing Middleham Park members to enjoy success on the frozen lake course.

“Milton takes all the credit for this,” said Tim Palin, director of racing for Middleham Park.

“He sourced the horse, he bought the horse with these races in mind and next week’s big prize is worth 100,000 Swiss francs.

“It was his plan, he felt the horse would be perfectly suited to these kind of conditions and he’s trained him to the minute since October, when he purchased him for 16,000 guineas at the horses-in-training sale.

“He’s orchestrated it brilliantly, the horse went out on the January 27, he ran his first race on February 6 and then ran yesterday (Sunday).

“There were health and safety concerns on the morning of the first race, so they reduced all the races that day. Our race was 1,800 metres down to 800 metres because they weren’t sure the back straight was safe.

“It turned out the race was only over four furlongs, but we managed to get the job done there and then yesterday, because he’d only run four furlongs, Milton felt that he only had a piece of work that day so we could probably get away with another race.”

Middleham Park are a leading name in racehorse syndication and have owned multiple Group One winners on the Flat and Graded performers over jumps, but the prospect of the White Turf proved particularly appealing and Mordred was an easy sell to members.

“For an ownership point of view, he was very popular,” Palin said.

“We’ve got a dozen owners going out on Saturday ready for Sunday, so it’s been really working towards a crescendo of excitement and involvement.

“It’s worked out so far, so good, and Milton says the hospitality there is like being treated like royalty.

“When we buy horses it can take weeks or months to syndicate them, but this horse was very popular from day one, simply because of this.

“It was an absolutely unique opportunity. Milton sent me a list of eight or nine horses and said ‘I think this will win the race or go very close in the race’ and that’s what made me choose him out of the horses he offered us.

“It was the ability to offer something unique. We’ve probably all read the press about the St Moritz White Turf racing, but to actually be involved in it, and successfully be involved in it, is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“We’re most grateful to Milton and we’re very grateful to our owners for jumping aboard and flying out to St Moritz.”

Harris seeking St Moritz highlight with Mordred

Trainer Milton Harris is enjoying a superb time at present and proved he is a man for all seasons, saddling his latest winner on the snow at St Moritz.

The Sutton Veny handler is set for a busy few weeks preparing his Cheltenham Festival hopefuls, yet there was still time to oversee Mordred’s overseas challenge with a bigger prize back in Switzerland in a few weeks in mind – the Grand Prix of St Moritz.

The annual White Turf St Moritz event has been held on the frozen lake of the Graubünden in the exclusive Swiss Alps resort since 1907.

Mordred booked his ticket for a big race in a fortnight when making all under Sibylle Vogt to take the Grosser Preis Longines, beating three rivals on Sunday.

Harris said: “It is not cold enough. It needs to be colder as they shortened the races from a safety point of view.

“Mordred was bought specifically with this race in mind. I have been coming here for many years and I come with German trainer Christian von der Recke, and I’ve always tried to target the race.

“The key with this horse is that he is a decent Flat horse and he has no penalties. The penalties are based on the previous 12 months prize money, so he gets all the allowances and it makes a massive difference at this altitude.

“They shortened Sunday’s race to a four-and-half-furlong race, but he is clearly a mile-and-a-quarter or a mile-and-a-half horse.

“Anyway, we won the race, which is a trial, and we expect him to be very competitive in the big race in two weeks’ time.”

Harris has a busy few weeks ahead with Knight Salute expected to take up an engagement in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton at the end of the month.

Last seen maintaining his unbeaten record over hurdles in the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster, the form of that race was given a huge boost by the runner-up Porticello, who subsequently won the Grade One Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.

Harris also saddled impressive Kempton debutant scorer Silver Shade in the Finesse Hurdle at Cheltenham, but he was well beaten by the Gordon Elliott-trained Pied Piper.

“Knight Salute is in the Adonis, so will be back on Wednesday or Thursday,” said Harris.

“He has plenty of pace and (then) we saw Gordon’s horse (Pied Piper) at Cheltenham.

“I finished fifth and Silver Shade did not run his race. My horse is much better than that and we’ve done a few things with him since. Obviously Willie Mullins’ horse (Vauban) looks a nice horse and I suspect the Triumph Hurdle will be six Irish horses and me and Gary Moore (Porticello) trying to have a go.”

Harris expects to see a better Silver Shade next time
Harris expects to see a better Silver Shade next time (Steven Paston)

He went on: “Silver Shade was lethargic, he was a little bit distressed after the race. He had his wind tested and everything. That is not him. He will probably go to the Victor Ludorum at Haydock, although I do need to speak to the owner.

“I suspect he won’t go to the Triumph, he will probably go to the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, but I’m not sure what will be top in there. The Irish could influence that. We haven’t got many horses in the 130s. The top one is rated 135.

“There is some logic into this being an average year, because unless they are paying 225,000 guineas, which Gordon paid (for Pied Piper), all the good three-year-olds are getting sold to Australia. That is the reality.

“Silver Shade beat Gordon’s horse on the Flat at Sandown (last year), so I think mine is a nice horse, I think you’ll see he’s better than he was last time.”

Mullenbeg landed a competitive Cheltenham bumper
Mullenbeg landed a competitive Cheltenham bumper (David Davies/PA)

Harris is pondering Festival options for two of his high-class mares.

Mullenbeg remains unbeaten after two starts having been an impressive winner of a competitive mares’ bumper at Cheltenham. Yet Harris is hopeful that another mare will show the ability which she has hinted at in her home work when she runs this week.

Harris added: “Mullenbeg won well at Cheltenham, but I have a filly at home, Rosy Redrum, that is better than her, but whether she is better just at home or not, we’ll see.

“She runs this week and she will either run at Huntingdon on Thursday or the Listed bumper at Newbury on Saturday.

“Mullenbeg’s obvious race is the mares’ hurdle at Aintree, but will Willie Mullins’ horses frighten everything else away in the bumper? Will it be a smaller than normal bumper with 10 or 12 runners? We just don’t know yet.”