TWO-TIME Grand National contender Mr Moonshine reappears over hurdles today at Wetherby on the first of 16 National Hunt meetings at the West Yorkshire track.
The 10-year-old makes a low-key start to the season in the concluding hurdle – former showjumper Harvey Smith says there simply are not suitable steeplechases for Mr Moonshine, who led this year’s National field before finishing 15th.
A third tilt at the National is probably unlikely – the horse is not likely to stay the four mile-plus trip – and the Grand Sefton Chase and Topham Trophy over one circuit of the Merseyside track are likely to be more attainable challenges.
Smith and his wife Sue, based at High Eldwick, also saddle the well-regarded Tahiti Pearl in the Bobby Renton Chase – the highlight of the season-opening Spinal Research raceday. The one to beat is AP McCoy’s mount Foundation Man in a race which honours the man who trained Freebooter to win the 1950 National from his stables at Oxclose near Ripon.
As for the current campaign, Malcolm Jefferson’s Urban Hymn and the Smith-trained Blakemount are both expected to be exciting additions to the novice chasing ranks. Both fought out a thrilling renewal of the River Don Hurdle at Doncaster last winter and are two Yorkshire horses to follow.