Spartan Army lives up to expectations at Wetherby
Two exciting bumper winners and an impressive winning four-year-old jumping hurdles for the first time – the last five days have thrown us everything, including plenty of controversy, and it’s only Wednesday today.
During that period, Alan found time to take our stable-star Edwardstone across to Lambourn, where Nicky Henderson kindly allowed him to work up his grass gallop, the horse having twice recently been an 11th-hour withdrawal, at Cheltenham and Ascot.
All being well over the next 10 days, Edwardstone might finally get his season rolling in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on December 3.
Meanwhile, Dancing Brazil gained plenty of admirers when sluicing up on his debut in the bumper at Huntingdon last Saturday, and Alan, who has always held him in high esteem, is now thinking in terms of the junior bumper at Cheltenham’s New Year meeting.
Another bumper who could be anything is Favour and Fortune, who has always done everything right on the gallops in the mornings and was similarly impressive in the Trevor Hemmings colours when bolting up at Southwell on Tuesday.
And even better was to come at Wetherby today, where Spartan Army, our 170,000gns recruit from Joseph O’Brien’s stable, travelled all over his rivals throughout on his hurdling bow, looking every inch a long-term Triumph Hurdle prospect.
Spartan Army is a relentless galloper but one with a turn of foot, and, apart from the last flight, where he landed awkwardly, he looked very professional at his obstacles. He was a winner on the Flat at Down Royal for Joseph at only his third attempt, and he is a big, strong individual who looked to relish the testing ground on the Yorkshire course.
Apart from the Cheltenham Festival, I doubt there is another jumps meeting that gets Alan more excited than this week’s two-day fixture at Newbury, our local course.
Remarkably, it is seven years ago that Alan won the Hennessy with Smad Place – “one of the best days of my career” – but we’ll reserve his thoughts for this year’s renewal until later in the week and focus on our two runners there on Friday.
Alan added:”Egbert shaped really well when finishing third on his hurdling debut at Warwick, so ought to be competitive in the novice, while Fidux, who ran such a great race when fourth in last season’s Scottish Grand National, is not easy to place over fences, so we hope he might enjoy a couple of races over hurdles. We took him to Market Rasen last week, only for his race to be washed out.”