YORKSHIRE hurdling prospect Pearl Castle is likely to appear at either Haydock or Doncaster within the next fortnight ahead of a possible trip to the Cheltenham Festival.
A dual winner on the Flat when trained by Andrew Balding before switching to John Quinn’s yard, the four-year-old was a well-beaten third on his hurdling debut at Wetherby’s Christmas meeting before striking by 16 lengths on Town Moor last month.
The son of Montjeu is a best-priced 16-1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, a race restricted to four-year-olds, but also holds an entry in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle – the Festival curtain-raiser. However, Malton-based Quinn is keen to see how his charge fares on his next start before committing to either race.
“He’s in good shape and I’d like to get another run into him before Cheltenham,” said Quinn who recorded one of the greatest successes of his career two years ago when the now retired Countrywide Flame was a shock 33-1 winner of the Triumph.
“I’ll put him in the Victor Ludorum at Haydock (February 15), but he does want nice ground, so we’ll have to see which way the weather goes. There is a race at Doncaster on February 19, so I might just wait and run him there.”
The leading dual-purpose handler is particularly strong in the juvenile hurdling division this term.
French recruit Aurore D’Estruval looked the part when making a winning British debut at Wetherby last Saturday and holds entries in both the Supreme and the Triumph.
Rutherglen is three from three over hurdles and could go for either the Triumph or the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle, depending on the outcome of his next start.
Quinn said: “Aurore D’Estruval won well, she jumps well and she’s a nice mare for us to look forward to. I’m hoping to run her somewhere next week. I’ll stick her in the Victor Ludorum as well and there is also a Listed mares race at Sandown on the Friday. Her next run will tell us a bit more about where we’re going with her.
“Rutherglen will be in the Triumph and the Fred Winter and I’m not sure which way he’ll go, but he’s a nice horse and good enough to go to Cheltenham. He’ll probably have a run next week, I’ll put him in at Kelso on Thursday but if the ground is too soft I could even run him on the Flat somewhere.”
Quinn’s fourth and final Triumph entry is last month’s Doncaster winner Forced Family Fun, who is due to line up in handicap company at Musselburgh next Wednesday.
The trainer’s more immediate target, however, is today’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury which should – weather permitting – see the latest appearance of his injury-prone Recession Proof.
The winner of the corresponding contest three years ago, Recession Proof was a creditable fifth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham before being sidelined for two and a half years due to injury problems.
His first three outings after returning to action were not too inspiring, but he was running with promise in The Ladbroke at Ascot in December until tipping up three flights from home.
He returns to Newbury with a rating of 134, the same mark off which he was successful in 2011. Quinn said: “I think he’s got a squeak. He certainly goes there in very good form.
“He was in the throes of running a good race when he came down at Ascot last time and he’s been fine since.
“He’s a course winner and he’ll go on the ground all right, so he’s definitely not without a chance.”