Nell and Nancy riding Jack, Tess’s kind hunter, before their hack last week.
BAILARICO kick started what turned out to be a fantastic weekend winning the 3m Novice Hurdle at Kempton under Gavin Sheehan. He was kept up with the pace and travelled strongly throughout the contest. He took on the leader, a nice horse of Philip Hobbs’ two out and the pair drew 37 lengths clear of the remaining field. They battled it out and BAILARICO ended up finishing two and three quarter lengths in front.
Since joining the yard a year ago, this is his 7th win for the yard, out of eight starts. He has won on the Flat and has also taken very well to hurdles. He is a horse that really seems to love winning and has given the Fitorfat Racing syndicate a fantastic year. We think he still has a lot to show on the Flat and by the looks of his current hurdling form a lot there too.
The second of our Saturday double was another horse who has done his fair share of winning for the yard, KEEPER HILL. This time he was given a brilliant ride by our new conditional, Harry Teal, and together they beat a competitive field in The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Warwick.
They were handy from the start, keeping up with the front runners until Harry confidently kicked for home coming round the last bend. The 8-year-old fought off his opposition in the home straight under a strong drive from Harry. It is great to see the McNeill Family’s talented horse back in form and back in the Winners Enclosure. Even though KEEPER HILL is built like a chaser he loves hurdling and it is great that we have been able to get him back into this sphere.
To finish off our fantastic weekend, the impressive youngster ENCORE CHAMPSwon again for us, this being his second win over obstacles. He made the long trip up to Kelso and was piloted by Champion Jockey Richard Johnson in the Tarrag Naegel Novices’ Hurdle. He made good work of the 10 runner field and stayed on strongly to finish one and a quarter lengths clear of second. His last run, in Grade 2 company, may have come too soon and it is great to have got him back to his winning ways.
There are a lot of options for a talented young horse like this and there is plenty of the season left to go. We are sure he will give his owners, Bryan Drew and The Swanee River Partnership, some exciting times ahead.