SUE SMITH says a second attempt at the Grand National is the likely objective for staying steeplechaser I Just Know who is due to make his seasonal reappearance at Wetherby today.
The eight-year-old – who fell at Becher’s Brook in this year’s National at Aintree – has been declared for a three runner novice hurdle over two and a half miles at the West Yorkshire’s track’s first meeting of the 2018-19 campaign. Like many trainers, High Eldwick-based Smith has been waiting for suitable ground, following a prolonged dry spell, to run their established stable stars.
“We’re just making a start with him for the season,” she told The Yorkshire Post.
“We’re starting at Wetherby over hurdles as he’s still a novice and then we may go to Kelso.
“The main plan is the Becher Chase and, if he handles the Aintree fences, the National. We have to make a start somewhere with him.”
Owned by Margaret Scholey, I Just Know came to prominence when winning the North Yorkshire National at Catterick in January before the chaser paid the price for an exuberant jump in the National.
Smith, who won the 2013 National with the Auroras Encore, saddles Midnight Shadow in the concluding two mile handicap hurdle.
A horse that exceeded expectations when winning the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April in the colours of Aafke Clarke, the plan is to stick to smaller obstacles for now and a possible tilt at Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle next month.
“If he runs good races, the possibility is he stays over hurdles,” said Smith. “If not, we will go chasing.”
She also runs Ann Ellis’s Cracking Find in a competitive handicap chase.
“It’s an initial race for all these horses,” she added.
Meanwhile ground conditions will determine whether Malton trainer Ruth Jefferson’s Dubai Angel runs in the three mile handicap hurdle.
She wants genuine good ground for her horse as she prepares for her first full season as a trainer following the death of her father Malcolm earlier this year.
Though three of her yard’s more established horses – Cloudy Dream, Mount Mews and Cyrus Darius – have been switched to other stables, she still has 25 runners in training this year and a Grade One winner in Waiting Patiently.
“It’s a good base to work with,” she said. “Most people don’t start with 25. There are some nice young ones. You’re just hoping one of them is the next good horse.”
Jefferson says she intends to show the patience that characterised the career of her late father while Jamie Hamilton and Henry Brooke are likely to ride most of her horses.
However Brian Hughes is due to retain the partnership on Waiting Patiently who has been on the injury sidelines after winning an emotional Ascot Chase in February a day after Jefferson laid her father to rest.
“He’s fine. He’s cantering away quietly. There’s no real target in mind,” said Jefferson who is reluctant to put a timescale on the horse’s return to competitive action. “We’re not forcing the issue.”
John Gosden’s Enable has been given the green light to head to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine has come out of her victory at ParisLongchamp in tip-top shape, and connections could find no reason not to travel to America.