Tag Archive for: War Lord

Nick Kent on verge of breakthrough success with Erne River

Nick Kent will saddle his first Grade One runner when unbeaten chaser Erne River takes his chance in the SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree on Thursday.

The gelding has run twice over fences and was victorious on both occasions, taking a competitive Doncaster novice by six lengths in January and then going on to score again when a 13-length winner at Wetherby the following month.

The Wetherby outing took place on soft ground that later deteriorated into heavy – conditions Kent felt did not suit his seven-year-old and thus made his decisive win all the more impressive.

“We’re excited, of course, it’s our first Grade One runner,” said the Lincolnshire-based trainer.

“All I can say is he’s really well, he came out of Wetherby really well. We felt he deserved a chance in a race like this, showing what he’d shown already, so we’ll give it a go and see if he’s up to it.

“He ran really well at Doncaster, it’s a flat galloping track again at Aintree. The ground was against him at Wetherby, I felt, he doesn’t feel the best on softer ground and the better ground seemed to suit him, but then again you couldn’t argue with how he ran at Wetherby.

“He galloped to the line. Charlie (Hammond, jockey) was really happy with him and said every time he gave him a squeeze he kept finding (more).”

The form of the Doncaster race was boosted at Ayr last week when Dan Skelton’s Beakstown, beaten six lengths by Erne River, went on to score in the Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase.

“The form’s looking good, it’s a big ask going into a Grade One but let’s see,” said Kent.

“He’s improved so quickly, he seems to have progressed very quickly. He did have three runs in point to points in Ireland, I know it’s not the same but it’s still experience over fences.

Erne River during his hurdling career
Erne River during his hurdling career (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’s got his own way of jumping, he can get a bit low at the odd one but he’s quite an intelligent horse, he’s quite clever.

“We’ll just have to hope it all holds together on the day – it’s exciting, nerve-wracking, but exciting.”

Colin Tizzard will be represented by The Widdow Maker and War Lord, the latter of whom was a creditable fourth behind Edwardstone in the Arkle at Cheltenham.

A 50-1 chance at the Festival, the performance was a significant step forward for the grey and assistant trainer Joe Tizzard is hoping a return to a two-and-a-half-mile trip will see him at his best.

“It was cracking run in the Arkle and he just got a bit outpaced at a crucial time and stayed on again really strongly,” he said.

War Lord (left) in action at Lingfield
War Lord (left) in action at Lingfield (Steven Paston/PA)

“It has always been the plan to step him back up to two and a half at Aintree. He won’t mind the ground. It looks like a lovely race for him to be honest and hopefully he will be very competitive in it.

“On the ratings he has a tiny bit to find, but not a great deal. He’s not far away and that two and a half at Aintree will be right up his street.”

Millers Bank is another of the seven-strong field and arrives on Merseyside after finishing second to Pic D’orhy in the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton in February.

The bay produced an assured round of jumping in the race, putting behind him two prior runs where he made errors when travelling competitively and unseated his jockey.

“He’s very well, he’s come out of Kempton in good shape and this has always been part of the plan,” said Hales.

Alex Hales' Millers Bank
Alex Hales’ Millers Bank (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s obviously got to improve again and it will be a competitive race, but we’re really looking forward to running him.”

Millers Bank was an 11-length winner on his chasing debut at Huntingdon but jumped a little too carefully on occasion during his following two runs and seemed to stutter upon landing and thus unbalance his rider.

“His first run at Huntingdon was absolutely brilliant, at Newbury he just took a little time to warm up to it, he was a bit novicey and I think he was the same at Cheltenham really. He just didn’t quite get his landing gear out quick enough,” said Hales.

“He did jump well at Kempton, that was the main thing, it was nice to get a clear run with him and hopefully he can build on that.”

“It’s very exciting and it’s just great to have a runner in a Grade One.”

Pic D’orhy will cross paths again with Millers Bank, as Paul Nicholls’ seven-year-old searches for a first Grade One success.

“I’ve had this race in mind all season for Pic D’orhy who is best on a flat track like Aintree on nice ground,” the Ditcheat trainer told Betfair.

“We were never going to Cheltenham with him and probably shouldn’t have taken him to Sandown. He is exciting and looked smart when winning last time at Kempton which was his best performance over fences.

“He has won two Grade Two chases and it would be nice to win a Grade One.”

Rachael Blackmore and Gin On Lime somehow kept their partnership intact to win at Cheltenham in November
Rachael Blackmore and Gin On Lime somehow kept their partnership intact to win at Cheltenham in November (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The Irish have a sole runner through the Henry de Bromhead-trained Gin On Lime – last seen snatching victory from the jaws of defeat when scrambling to her feet and claiming a Cheltenham novice match race from My Drogo in November.

Milton Harris’ Jacamar, who finished fourth to Do Your Job in the Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr on Saturday, was declared a non runner.

War Lord wins the battle for Lingfield honours

War Lord gained handsome compensation for his fine run in a Grade One on his previous start with a hard-fought victory in the Cazoo Novices’ Chase at Lingfield.

The Colin Tizzard-trained seven-year-old had finished a long way second behind Edwardstone in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown – but showed he is pretty smart in his own right as he made it three wins from four races over fences.

Il Ridoto made the running in the four-horse affair with War Lord always on his heels in second place under Brendan Powell.

Taking closer order in the straight with three fences to jump, War Lord (11-10 favourite) had to work hard to overtake the long-time leader before landing the spoils by three and a quarter lengths. Faivoir edged Il Ridoto out of second place by a length.

War Lord was cut to 33-1 from 50-1 with Coral for the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.

Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said: “He deserved it. He has done nothing wrong all season. He is quite a progressive young horse. We have Doncaster next week in mind – we were always going to enter and just see where. I wouldn’t say this race has cut up, but the front three were all, on ratings, much of a muchness. I think he has done it quite nicely and I think he is getting better.

“He earned his right to run in a Grade One and he lost nothing in defeat. We were chuffed to bits he finished second that day and we dropped back down to a Grade Two. He is a two-and-a-half-mile hurdler so we can step up in trip when we need to, but just on this ground, we don’t need to yet.

“He has got two options at Cheltenham – the Arkle and the two-and-a-half-miler. As the ground dries out, we won’t be afraid to step him up, but at the moment, he jumps so well and he’s slick and he travels, so we don’t need to.

“The boys are keen to have a go (at Cheltenham), I’m keen to have a go and he’s earned the right to be there as well. He is three out of four and second in a Grade One, so he deserves to be there. We will wait and see. The guys are enjoying planning all the races, as much as I am.

“I might enter him for next Saturday (Lightning Novices’ Chase), as he has not had a hard race. I might enter him up at Doncaster just in case that cut up to two or three – I won’t tell them that yet. I will just press the button and tell them at 12 o’clock!

“He jumps and travels and done it well. He’s a good chap.”

The Tizzard stable and Powell completed a double when Triple Trade (7-2) outfought Shearer by two lengths in the Winter Million Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

Our Jester ran out a convincing winner of the Winter Million Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Hughie Morrison’s six-year-old pulled clear of his rivals early in the straight to quickly put the two-mile race beyond doubt in the hands of Tom O’Brien.

Our Jester (5-2) got off the mark in a bumper at Ascot in November on his third start and took a big step forward in a competitive heat.

Always prominent the Garswood gelding set sail for home on the final bend and went on to score by three and a quarter lengths from the Nicky Henderson-trained Swapped. German challenger Estacas, the 15-8 favourite, was a neck away in third.

O’Brien said: “He is huge and that was my worry. It is tight around here, so I wanted to get out handy and luckily we have done that.

“It looked as if there would be a lack of pace, with a lot of speed horses in there, and my lad is a jumper of the future, so I wanted to be up there and luckily it was the right place today.

“Hughie was confident. He got beat twice last year and he obviously took time to strengthen up and he has done, he has done very well. It is a great race to win and great from Lingfield to put it on.”

There was a sting in the tail for O’Brien as he was banned for five days for careless riding. He will be out from February 6 to 10 inclusive.

Ballygrifincottage (7-4) wore down High Stakes in the closing stages to win a thrilling race for the Winter Million Novices’ Hurdle.

The seven-year-old, trained by Dan Skelton, made his stamina count as he knuckled down for Harry Skelton to see off his gritty opponent by a length and a half.

The pair pulled clear eight lengths clear of the third-placed horse, the 11-8 favourite Fameaftertheglory.

Harry Skelton and Ballygrifincottage (right) on their way to winning the Winter Million Novices’ Hurdle
Harry Skelton and Ballygrifincottage (right) on their way to winning the Winter Million Novices’ Hurdle (Steven Paston/PA)

It was only Ballygrifincottage’s second start under rules following his third place in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on his debut for the Skelton stable last month after being sold out of the point-to-point sphere.

His rider said: “They went so quick, I couldn’t go with them. I was off the bridle going to the first, to the second, but three miles on that ground, I just let him warm up, let him warm into it and he came onto the bridle then with a circuit to go.

“Whatever we do over hurdles will be a bonus. He has quite a lot of experience. He is an older horse, he is a six-year-old. We would never normally start our novices off over the trip we have with him, but he has got that experience and he can cope with it. There is a lot to look forward to.”