WETHERBY winner Aurore D’Estruval is set to reappear at Haydock this weekend as Malton trainer John Quinn finalises racing plans for his young prospect.
Quinn believes the £100,000 Betfair Price Rush Hurdle, rather than Ascot’s Coral Hurdle on the same day, is a realistic proposition for his four-year-old mare whose 10-length win at the West Yorkshire track on Charlie Hall Chase day could not have been more impressive.
Neither contest this weekend will be straight-forward – Haydock’s race is due to feature Champion Hurdle third The New One for Sam and Nigel Twiston-Davies while Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins intends to run Cheltenham Festival winner Faugheen at the Berkshire track.
“At the moment we are leaning towards Haydock,” said Quinn.
“She was very visually impressive at Wetherby and we were particularly pleased with her before the race. The ground at Wetherby wasn’t too soft but she won’t mind a bit of cut wherever she goes.”
Should Quinn elect to bypass this weekend altogether, Aurore D’Estruval also holds an engagement in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday week. He landed the 2012 renewal of this race with the now retired Countrywide Flame and the trainer commented: “She is a filly so the Grade One at Newcastle is attractive for breeding purposes.”
As for Faugheen, the dual Grade One winner is currently ante-post favourite for next year’s Champion Hurdle and will be ridden at Ascot by Ruby Walsh.
Meanwhile, stablemate Vautor, the winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, is due to make his novice chase debut at Navan on Sunday.
A potential rival at the major festivals later in the season could be the Paul Nicholls-trained Ptit Zig who made it two wins from two starts over fences when prevailing at Warwick yesterday under Sam Twiston-Davies.
The same meeting saw champion conditional Gavin Sheehan continue his winning run when partnering the mare Maybe Plenty to a 12-length win.
Sheehan’s prowess in the saddle has caught the eye of High Eldwick trainer Sue Smith and her husband Harvey – they have booked the jockey to ride their own first season steeplechaser Straidnahanna at Market Rasen today while Ryan Mania recovers from a knee injury that he sustained in a heavy fall at Wetherby last weekend.
Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Sire De Grugy will miss next month’s Tingle Creek Chase because of a “hip problem”.
Trainer Gary Moore says his horse will be on the sidelines for the remainder of 2014 at the very least. “He’s not fractured his pelvis or suffered a stress fracture or anything, but he does have a hot area in his hip,” he said.
“He’s done some damage to his hip and I don’t know if that’s good or bad really. What happens now is that he spends the next month on the walker and then he will be rescanned.”