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Animator clears maidens in hurdle debut

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Animator made the perfect start to his jumping career at Hastings on Saturday where he took out the Hawke’s Bay Hunt Maiden Hurdle (2500m).

Trainer Brendon Hawtin was pleased with the victory, which adds to the gelding’ds six wins on the flat.

"It was a good thrill on Saturday and one would think he could go on with it," he said.

"Overall his jumping was brilliant and he certainly ran out the 2500m really strong. There is plenty of upside that is for sure." Hawtin started to put Animator over the fences as part of his training 18 months ago and he said the son of Encosta De Lago has been a natural from the very beginning.

"Just with his antics in racing, hanging and that sort of thing, we just started popping him over the logs as part of his training and slowly moved up to the hurdles.

"From day one he jumped really well and that was always going to be his forte. So far it has worked out well."

Animator had two hurdles trials at Cambridge in autumn and Hawtin was confident heading into Saturday after what he has seen from his gelding.

"His first jumping trial we just wanted to get around safely and give him a good experience and he ran third," Hawtin said. "Emily Farr, who has done a lot of the work on the horse, rode him there.

"His second jumping trial was against the open hurdlers and we put a bit of pressure on him and he managed to win that, and his two flat runs since have been good to have him fit and ready for Saturday."

Hawtin said he is unsure of where he will head to next with Animator, but a return trip to the same meeting next season is on the cards for the promising jumper.

"It’s hard when these maideners win a hurdle race. You sort of jump straight into the open grade and that can sometimes make things more difficult. "We haven’t got too many big plans for him this season, but next season you would like to think that he will be running in races like the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (3500m). "He may well end up in Australia at some stage, but we are going to take it step-by-step at the moment."

Countess on Northern path at Te Aroha

Matamata trainers Peter and Jess Brosnan bypassed last Saturday’s Hastings meeting with their capable chaser Old Countess, but the mare is still on a Great Northern path.

Old Countess was purposely absent from the line-up for the Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase (4800m), won by Perry Mason, however she will be back in action in the open 3500m steeplechase at Te Aroha on Sunday.

"Hastings was always going to be too dry for her," Peter Brosnan said. "She’ll be better suited at Te Aroha and after that we have a couple of options, either the Wellington Steeplechase or go to Te Rapa for an easier option.

"The Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) at Ellerslie in September is the one we’re after and she can run in the Pakuranga Hunt Cup (4900m) beforehand."

Old Countess won last year’s Wanganui Steeplechase (4100m) before being runner-up to Perry Mason in the Pakuranga Hunt Cup, which was run at Te Aroha, as was the Great Northern Steeplechase in which the daughter of Zed finished fifth to Chocolate Fish.

"The Northern being at Ellerslie is going to suit her better than it did at Te Aroha," Brosnan said. "We’ve won the Great Northern Hurdles (4190m) with Southern Countess (in 2011) and it would be great to get the Great Northern Steeples, too."

Brosnan’s father, Sam, also won a Great Northern Hurdles, with Mark’s Gold in 1981, and finished second in the 1978 Great Northern Steeplechase with Marji’s Gold.

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