Hawk High earns Aintree reward

Tim Easterby.
Tim Easterby.
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Tim Easterby’s Cheltenham Festival hero Hawk High will test the water at Grade One level at Aintree next month.

The Trevor Hemmings-owned youngster bounded up the famous hill to run out a decisive winner of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at last week’s showpiece meeting, earning him a rise in the weights.

Instead of aiming his charge at one of the handicaps at the upcoming Crabbie’s Grand National fixture, Easterby is keen to let him take on the best of his generation in the Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle.

“He’s grand – he’s in smashing form,” said the Great Habton trainer as he reflected on his first Festival winner for 15 years.

“All being well he’ll go to Aintree and I think we’ll have a go at the big four-year-old hurdle – we might as well.”

Another Easterby inmate to perform with great credit at the Festival was the Ryan Mania-ridden Trustan Times, who was beaten by just half-a-length into fourth in a pulsating climax to the Pertemps Final which was won by the hard-ridden Fingal Bay under Richard Johnson.

“He ran a cracking race, we were delighted with him,” said Easterby, whose father Peter trained five Champion Hurdle winners. “I’m not sure where he’ll go next.”

Aintree could also see a fascinating clash between the Mouse Morris-trained staying hurdler Rule The World, who just failed to live up to his name in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’s The New One, who was badly hampered in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Morris also confirmed that First Lieutenant is on course to defend the Grade One Betfred Bowl.

His likely rivals include Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste.

Jim Culloty, meanwhile, already has one eye on Lord Windermere’s Cheltenham Gold Cup defence next March after revealing his stable star will not run again this season.

AP McCoy believes World Hurdle winner More Of That represents his best chance of winning another Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 18-time champion preferred At Fishers Cross and was proved wrong as the six-year-old, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and owned by JP McManus, maintained his unbeaten record under Barry Geraghty.

McCoy, who chalked up another double century of winners on Wednesday, hopes the unbeaten six-year-old will switch to fences sooner rather than later.

“Jonjo had been telling me for the last three weeks to ride More Of That. I should have listened,” said the jockey, who won the blue riband race with Mr Mulligan in 1997 and then Synchronised two years ago.

“The disappointing thing was I didn’t ride him last week but the good thing is I am going to get to ride him. I’d like to win another Gold Cup and he’s my best chance, so the sooner he goes for it the better. The trainer knows best and the owner as well, but the Gold Cup is the Gold Cup.”

Top Irish trainer Philip Fenton will have to wait several weeks to defend himself against charges of possession of steroids.

The 49-year-old sat by himself at the back of Carrick-on-Suir district court in Co Tipperary before Judge Terence Finn put the hearing back for mention at the same courthouse on May 15.

Fenton is facing eight charges over treatments and medicines found by state inspectors at his yard.

No plea has been entered.

Fenton’s runners at Cheltenham last week – Last Instalment, Dunguib and Value At Risk – were tested by the BHA before being cleared to run.

Kingston Hill, the impressive winner of last season’s Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, will head straight to the Qipco 2000 Guineas in early May without a prep race.

Unbeaten from three starts, trainer Roger Varian worked his colt yesterday morning on Newmarket’s Warren Hill under his big race jockey Andrea Atzeni, one of Flat racing’s emerging stars.