Edwardstone ready for Cheltenham dress-rehearsal at Haydock
Like most other trainers, Alan could have done without another bout of heavy rain that accompanied Storm Brendan this past week, but sometimes you have to roll the dice and hope for the best, so Alan has given the green light for our leading Cheltenham Festival candidate Edwardstone to have his prep in the Rossington Main Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.
Since switching to Haydock in 2005, the Rossington Main roll of honour has not boasted the glamour names it did when it was run at Doncaster – Sea Pigeon, Grand Canyon and French Hollow to name but three from the 70’s – but Edwardstone already has a rating of 142 after winning both his hurdle races, a mark which shows that the official BHA assessor thinks as highly of him as does Alan.
Not surprisingly, Alan says he would have preferred less testing ground for Edwardstone as while he has proved he can handle the soft, the horse has such a potent finishing kick that his speed will be blunted in a mudbath.
Alan said:”Edwardstone’s form is rock-solid – he was a good bumper horse but he looked a bit special when beating Fiddleronthehoof at level weights at Wincanton on his hurdling debut, and the runner-up has since won twice at Sandown, including the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle.
“Edwardstone then defied his penalty at Aintree, where, though he settled early, he took off down the back, so it was encouraging to to see him knuckle down to catch Harry Senior, who was receiving 6lb and went on to boost the form by winning next time.”
They say “if it ain’t broke, why change it”, but Alan has opted to run Edwardstone in a hood for the first time, and, explaining the headgear, he added:”I feel that there might be a lot more to come as in each of his two races so far he raced much too freely, so to achieve what he has despite doing everything wrong in the first half of the race speaks volumes for the horse’s ability.
“Edwardstone is pretty laid-back at home, so we hope that he will lose that keeness as he gets used to racing, but he worked well when we tried the hood one morning last week and it might just help him to relax that bit more.
“If you are going to experiment you don’t wait until Cheltenham to do so, and, though the ground does concern me, he does not really have any other viable options as he’d always have to carry a double penalty in an ordinary novice and, having been off since December, he is ready for another run.”