PIG farmer Peter Atkinson is hoping his horse-of-a-lifetime Irish Roe can retain his unbeaten record over hurdles at Wetherby today.
The winner of three Bumper races last season, the six-year-old made a seamless switch to hurdles with victories at both Southwell and Cartmel.
That second race was in early July and Atkinson says he always intended to give Irish Roe a lay-off before resuming his campaign.
However, today’s two-mile handicap hurdle looks competitive and victory will require a career-best performance according to Northallerton-based Atkinson, who has just a couple of horses in training.
Once again, Irish Roe will be ridden by Middleham jockey Henry Brooke who schooled the gelding on Thursday.
“It was always the plan to give him a bit of time off,” Atkinson told The Yorkshire Post.
“He’s two from two over hurdles. It couldn’t have gone better. He will come unstuck one day. He jumps well and schooled well.
“Fingers crossed for a good run.”
Meanwhile, Bawtry trainer David Griffiths and his wife Sophie are celebrating a career-best season on the Flat.
Magic Pulse’s win at Chelmsford on Thursday night under Dougie Costello was the popular couple’s 20th success this year, beating their 2012 tally of 19 triumphs.
Their standard-bearer is the 10-year-old Take Cover whose four wins included the Beverley Bullet and, most recently, a Listed contest at a rain-lashed Dundalk on the all-weather.
The veteran is on a break with his owners at Norcroft Park Stud near Mansfield and is due to return to training in January.
Griffiths says the early-season target will be Newmarket’s Palace House Stakes while Goodwood’s King George Stakes, a race the fantastic front-runner has won on two previous occasions, is the main objective of the summer.
“When he came back from Dundalk, he was ready for a break,” said the trainer.
Aintree – home of the Grand National – was named racecourse of the year for the first time at the annual RCA Showcase Awards.
Pontefract was honoured for its marketing campaigns while Beverley deservedly took top honours in the Food & Beverage category.
York took the Events award for its Jump Jockeys Nunthorpe, a five-furlong sprint featuring National Hunt riders, while longstanding receptionist Alison Storey was honoured for outstanding achievement.
Malcolm Jefferson’s Arkle runner-up Cloudy Times lines up in tomorrow’s feature Shloer Chase at Cheltenham.
Rivals for the Malton-trained horse include Special Tiara who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March.
The Shloer Chase has a rich history – it was won two years ago by the steeplechasing superstar Sprinter Sacre.
And novice chaser Cracking Find recorded his first win over larger obstacles at Newcastle yesterday for Yorkshire owner Ann Ellis, trainer Sue Smith and jockey Danny Cook.