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RACING: Hales up for the challenge
Banbury trainer Alex Hales is excited by the challenge of a new National Hunt season after experiencing a tough time over the last two campaigns.
With his Edgcote string under a cloud for much of 2011, Hales saw his hopes of a fruitful time last season dashed before it had really got under way.
Reflecting on last term as he paraded 17 of his 21-strong string in front of around 110 owners’ and guests at his open day at Trafford Bridge Stables, he said: “It was difficult for us to get going.
“The horses were still feeling the effects of what they had the previous season, but come January our strike rate shot up. This year we should have a lot of well-handicapped horses.”
That prospect combined with the arrival of a number of promising youngsters has given Hales reason to believe his yard can bounce back.
“We are very excited about this year,” he added. “I think we have a really nice bunch of horses.”
Topping that list is Midnight Chorister, who it’s hoped will make his debut in a bumper in November.
“He could be quite special,” said Hales, who also picked out Minellaforleisure, a narrow second on his only start for John Nallen in a Killarney bumper in May before being bought at the Cheltenham sales.
Causeway King, a recent arrival from Philip Hobbs’s Minehead stables, and Salut Honore also received favourable mentions.
The latter won twice last season under Campbell Gillies, who died while on holiday in Corfu in June.
Dedicating the open day to the young jockey, Hales said: “His loss is massive for his family and racing.”
Hales is also hoping stable stalwarts Iconoclast, who is back in work after injury, Antonious Caesar and Rif will be in the winner’s enclosure.
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