Yard already excited for Christmas
CHRISTMAS cannot come soon enough for Brian Barr.
The trainer from Longburton near Sherborne has a smart prospect in Tuffstuff and has earmarked the Boxing Day bumper at Wincanton for the five-year-old's reappearance.
And when the season of goodwill arrives Barr wants not so much a white one as a wet one because the Generous gelding likes to get his toe into the ground.
Tuffstuff's only outing to date was a Stratford bumper in mid-April when he finished a close third – and the quality of that race justifies why the trainer and owner/partner Daisy Hitchins hold the youngster from Beech Tree Stud in such high esteem.
Three previous winners were behind Tuffstuff while runner-up (Rolling Maul) has won twice since – the second of them by 25 lengths – while the fifth (Irish Cavalier) trotted up at Worcester in May.
Permit-holder Barr said: "David Pipe, who trains the fourth Baltimore Rock, thought it was one of the best bumpers around at that time of the season.
"The form is solid and our lad was not fully wound up – he's still a big baby. We would have gone on but Tuffstuff had a fall in the field and we stopped.
"He's only just come back into training and we're aiming for Wincanton on Boxing Day when he'd like plenty of cut. He is a massive, long-striding horse standing 17 hands and we are quite excited about him – if he's half as good as we think he is he'll be okay."
Stable newcomer Bostin is very much the opposite: a smaller type who wants better ground. This five-year-old chestnut is by Busy Flight, the renowned Barry Hills stayer who landed the 1998 Yorkshire Cup.
Barr said: "After we bought Bostin we gave him two months off – he was fit from point-to-pointing but small and weak but he is so powerful now.
"I think he can win a bumper because although he's small he is seriously tough. He was pulled up in his first point-to-point over 2m4f, in his second at 3m he led over the last but was caught on the line and then he bolted up in a 13-runner race on his final outing. We think he could be a smart horse."
Village Secret – another winner between the flags – made his NH debut for Barr 16 months ago in a Worcester bumper and is back in training after "a touch of a leg" sidelined the Pasternak seven-year-old.
"He is a handful but he does have a serious engine and I think he'll win a novice hurdle. When he's okay he's great but he does need plenty of work – we believe in him.
"He is a massive chestnut and his jumping is fantastic – he'll be chasing before long."
Barr predicts that Follow The Tracks "will be our next winner" from his eight-horse yard. The five-year-old son of St Leger hero Milan had three outings over hurdles inside eight days during August to get a handicap mark of 90.
"All he does is gallop but he is very genuine and wants 3m on soft ground. Gavin Sheehan, who rides a lot for us, says he's the best jumper we have got and he'll be a staying chaser."
Follow The Tracks is being primed for a race at Ffos Las on Sunday (October 13).
Forgotten Promise and Dun See Dee are mares at Tall Trees Stud but whereas Forgotten Promise will continue racing, her stablemate is set for the paddocks after running for Simon Hodgson at Queen Camel last season.
Forgotten Promise – a six-year-old by double French Group One winner Revoque – was bred by Liz Nelson of Whitcombe Monymusk Stables near Dorchester and had one outing in a Newbury bumper for Nelson's trainer Jo Crowley in March, 2011, before being sold to present connections.
The mare has had only five runs since, the last of them in November last year. "She is the heaviest in the yard, an absolute monster. Her career has had so many gaps – she is very sound but weak and we have been trying to calm her down because she would pull and wouldn't get home in her races."
On the credit side she is an efficient jumper, has matured and Barr has 2m4f novice hurdles in mind with mares' novice chases the eventual target.
By David Briers