Alan’s Stable Tour in The Post is a must read this week

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October 25

We are eagerly looking forward to Harbour Lake having his first run over fences – Alan is trying to find a two and a half mile novice to get him started – but, meanwhile the same Hemmings team have plenty to look forward to with Favour And Fortune, who made a winning debut over hurdles at Hereford on Tuesday.

Successful in his first two bumpers – and impressive too – Favour And Fortune was all the rage to make a winning start, and the five-year-old, who has always been the apple of Alan’s eye, duly won like an exciting prospect, pulling clear up the straight to win by 13 lengths.

Reflecting on the race, Alan said:”We’ve always rated Favour And Fortune. You can put a line through his one hiccup in the Grade 1 bumper at the Cheltenham Festival as he pulled some muscles between his front legs.

“He enjoyed a good summer and has pleased us in his work this autumn, and, apart from missing the second last, he looked very professional at Hereford.

“He will learn from that one mistake, but he’s quite a light-framed horse so would not want too much racing. We’ll give him a bit of time and try and find something around Christmas time where he can run under a penalty. He is a great mover with a huge, long stride, so we hope he’ll prove above-average.”

Alan has no runners this Saturday and just the one on Sunday, Whispering Royal making his hurdling debut at Wincanton. This time last year he was about to beat one of Joseph O’Brien’s on his first run in a maiden at Dundalk, but he changed hands for 75,000gns at Tattersalls December Sales  and then joined the Barbury team.

Having shown promise on the Flat at Windsor and Ripon in the summer, Whispering Royal, who is now owned by the Chelsea Thoroughbreds team, was schooled in the autumn and is ready to try his luck at the winter cod.

Barbury were the subject of The Racing Post’s Stable Tour this week, so online subscribers are in for a treat. Alan reveals that he had seven individual bumper winners last season, and he hopes some of them will carry over their promise into novice hurdles this winter.

Alan has never experienced much luck on the Grand National road, but he knows only too well the impressive record that owner Trevor Hemmings, who died two years ago, enjoyed at Aintree, so he could well target his Midlands Grand National hero Major Dundee at the world’s greatest steeplechase in April.

Turning the clock back 12 months, Alan said:”This time last year Major Dundee was jarred up pretty badly on the watered ground at Ascot. It looked like we might not get him back last season, but he finished his race off well in third place on his comeback at Kempton in February, and he then went and won the big one at Uttoxeter.

“That fuelled hopes that Major Dundee might be one for the Aintree National this season as he has already been placed in the Scottish version at Ayr when still a novice. He jumps and stays, which is so important at Liverpool, and he is also better going left-handed so, while we are working backwards from Aintree, we plan to look at the Coral Gold Cup (still known by so many old-timers as the Hennessy) at Newbury on December 2.”

Stable-star Edwardstone, who enjoyed his finest hour in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last December, flopped in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March, but he will be looking to redeem his tarnished reputation when returning to Prestbury Park for the Shloer Chase next month.

Alan said:”Edwardstone was never travelling in the Champion Chase, and unseating Tom (Cannon) at the first at Kempton over Christmas somewhat messed up our plans for the rest of the season. But the Shloer ought to tell us whether we should stick to two miles or move up to two and a half.

“Edwardstone is bred to stay and he now settles so much better than he did in his early days. If we did decide to step him up in trip, the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon might be the race to bring him back, and we could even enter him for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.”

Alan was not too disappointed that veteran Sceau Royal could not win on his seasonal debut at Kempton for the third year running – he was almost twice the age of the first three home.

Understandably, Sceau Royal, who will celebrate his 12th birthday on New Year’s Day, found this two miles a bit sharp , so Alan is looking at stepping him up to two and a half at Ascot next time.

Others who got a good mention in the stable file feature are Paradias, who did us proud on the Flat this year, HMS President, who was runner-up at Royal Ascot, the lighly-raced Insanity and decent bumper horse Helnwein, who did his first bit of schooling in the autumn of last year. All four will be interesting switching to hurdles.