Moon Racer: suffered a fracture early last season
PICTURE: Getty Images
By Scott Burton 8:48PM 21 SEP 2016
PERTH had already dubbed the last meeting of its season as the “Glorious Finale” but even the racecourse executive couldn’t have dreamed the novice hurdle would attract the last two Weatherbys Champion Bumper winners, who each make their hurdles debuts in the 2m Racing Post Readers Award Novice Hurdle on Thursday.
The hero from two years ago, Moon Racer, made just one start during a troubled 2015-16 season when second to Blow By Blow at Punchestown, while the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Ballyandy makes his first start since finishing fourth in a Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in April.
David Pipe, trainer of Moon Racer, said: “It’s not ideal having to take each other on but if we don’t run now we could be waiting a while for some safe ground and we want to get this one under our belt.”
Moon Racer suffered a fracture early last season but Pipe only gave up on the idea of getting him to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle quite late in the day, instead going to Ireland for the valuable Champion Flat race at Punchestown in April.
“We want to get some racing into him,” said Pipe. “He’s a seven-year-old now and we missed almost all of last season, so the plan is to try and get him out early. He’s done plenty of work at home and has pleased me with his schooling.”
Twiston-Davies has made no secret of how highly he rates Ballyandy and said: “We hope he’s improved and, if he has, what have we got?
“We just wanted to start him off against poor opposition but we haven’t got that. However, I couldn’t be happier with him. It’s a very good race for the time of year, worthy of even Cheltenham. I’m looking forward to it and our horse jumps very well.”
Fitting end to Perth season
Perth chief executive Hazel Peplinski said: “This race really is huge news for Perth and we’re absolutely delighted for our patrons that they’ll get a chance to see these wonderful horses compete in what is really the first mouthwatering top-class clash of the new jumps season.
“It’s such a bonus we’ve managed to sneak it into the end of our summer programme and it’s a fitting way to bring to a close what has been a brilliant season here at Perth.”
The ground at Perth on Wednesday was good to soft, with some soft parts down the back and good ground in the home straight.