CONNECTIONS of Marie’s Rock expect to have a clearer idea of her potential ambitions after the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster today.
The Ffos Las bumper scorer was hugely impressive in winning her first two starts over hurdles last season for trainer Nicky Henderson and owners Middleham Park Racing.
However, injury ruled her out of an intended appearance in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and she could finish only seventh when favourite to make a successful reappearance at Newbury in November.
The winner of that Newbury race, her stable companion Floressa, is again in opposition this weekend – and Middleham Park’s Tom Palin is keeping his fingers crossed for a much improved performance from Marie’s Rock in this Grade Two feature.
He said: “Her injury came at the worst possible time, really, as it ruled her out of Cheltenham then of course Covid hit and everything else was off anyway.
“At Newbury we felt she was beaten through inexperience, but this race has always been on our radar.
“We need to know what we have. She’s got a Champion Hurdle entry down to me, but that is because we don’t actually know what we’ve got.”
Catterick trainer Phil Kirby saddled his former stable star Lady Buttons to claim this prize in both of the past two seasons and is this year represented by Rayna’s World while Irish Roe, trained by Peter Atkinson in North Yorkshire, also features.
Evan Williams has confirmed Secret Reprieve will be given an entry in the Randox Grand National at Aintree.
The seven-year-old novice landed a sustained gamble last time out in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow, following up a win in the Trial for the same race.
While Williams was keen to stress Secret Reprieve is far from guaranteed to run at Aintree, owners William and Angela Rucker have unfinished business there having been placed in the race seven times through State Of Play, Cappa Bleu and Alvarado.
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