Serenade on song for run next month
IF at first you don't succeed, try again. That is the motto of Victors Serenade's trainer as he maps out plans for his smart chaser.
Last season all roads led to the Coral Welsh National at Christmas only for the mud-loving stayer to run into a cul-de-sac following a disastrous mistake in a prep run over the Monmouthshire track during October.
That meant a leg operation which ended his campaign – but 12 months on the same target has been resurrected for the eight-year-old son of Old Vic.
Handler Anthony Honeyball said: "Aidan Coleman felt he was coming to win that Chepstow race when Victors Serenade blundered badly at the first fence in the straight.
"It would have been better had he fallen but he stood up which didn't help before being quickly pulled up. He had to have a piece of chipped bone removed from a hock.
"But he's really flying now and bursting his brains for a run.
"He wants heavy or at least soft ground and he'll appear towards the end of October with the Welsh National again the ultimate aim."
The autumn loss of Victors Serenade plus a similar tale of woe for another talented stayer As De Fer and the retirement to the paddocks of Gan On all contributed to Honeyball's winners falling to 19 last season from 24 the previous campaign when those three had been responsible for five victories.
However, 2012-13 prize-money at £111,600 was virtually the same as the previous term for the Mosterton yard near Crewkerne thanks predominantly to Marie Des Anges and Danimix who each contributed more than £16,000 from their total of seven wins.
"Marie Des Anges is very good on soft ground and finds it very easy. She'll run over 2m4f on a galloping track in soft ground."
Honeyball was pleasantly surprised by the handicapper's treatment of the five-year-old mare – she has risen a mere 3lb to 113 for those three victories – and is unbeaten in the chases she has finished. Danimix, however, is on the injured list.
Another highly promising mare is Lily Waugh. The six-year-old daughter of the late King's Theatre won her solitary Irish point-to-point in February and was runner-up on her British debut in a Ffos Las bumper during May.
"A gorgeous mare who will have a bumper in early October and we hope to go for a listed mares' bumper at Cheltenham's Paddy Power meeting in November."
A mare new to Mosterton is the unraced five-year-old Desert Queen, owned by Henry Cole and related to his celebrated racemare Dubacilla. "She is a good-sized type who will run this year in a bumper on a galloping track in November."
Chantara Rose arrives with an impressive NH pedigree being related to two winners and by Kayf Tara out of Fragrant Rose who landed two bumpers and three hurdles for Henrietta Knight.
"Chantara Rose didn't race last season because of a few niggly problems but she is really well put together and has plenty of scope."
This four-year-old filly is one of several horses owned by Steve and Jackie Fleetham at the Dorset yard – and another to sport their red and yellow colours is Jackies Solitaire.
"Jackies Solitaire won two chases last season and will be aimed at handicap chases over 2m4f with a bit of give in the ground but we might switch her back to hurdles for a Grade Two or Three mares' race if something appeals to us."
The Fleethams' Velator landed a 2m5f handicap chase at Wincanton in April and was pipped a week later at Cheltenham. "The ground went a bit soft for him and he came home with a corn in his foot and a whack on the shin. He's lined up for the first Wincanton meeting on October 17."
Dorset Naga – in the same ownership – opened his chase account in style at Fontwell Park 13 months ago but has been sidelined since with a tendon strain. The seven-year-old Alflora gelding is firing on all cylinders now with a 2m6f handicap chase at Market Rasen on Saturday the target.
Hes Our Lad – winner of a bumper, hurdle and chase – has also been out since August last year with a leg injury and is primed for a 2m handicap hurdle.