Sandra Hughes had a baptism of fire as a trainer, as she had to take the reins in the middle of last season after her much-loved father Dessie lost his battle against cancer back in November 2014. Since his death, Sandra has taken over the running of the yard and to her great credit, the transition has been seamless despite the trying circumstances.
Sandra made the perfect start to her training career and indeed paid a very appropriate tribute to her father by saddling Lieutenant Colonel to win the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle just two weeks after Dessie’s death.
That horse has progressed into her stable star, but there are no shortage of promising sorts in her care and she gave ATR’s Kevin Blake the lowdown on her team who are out to make hay in 2015/16.
==STARTHTML==A 130-rated hurdler, he won a maiden hurdle at Galway prior to finishing second in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse last season.
“The plan is to go down the novice chasing route with him this season. He’s a lot stronger than he was last season, so we’re looking forward to him. I don’t see any reason why he won’t be effective over three miles. He’s about three weeks off a run.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 136-rated chaser, he is a full-brother to Black Jack Ketchum and showed useful form during his novice chase campaign last season, winning a maiden at Navan and finishing fourth in Grade 2 novice company at Navan in February.
“He wasn’t quite right at the backend of last season, but we found he had a muscle injury and have since sorted it out. He is 100% again and we’ll hope to have him ready for Christmas. He’ll go back chasing and I’d be hoping that there is more to come from him.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 134-rated hurdler, he ran well without winning in three starts over fences in the second half of last season and looked set to make a winning return over fences at Ballinrobe in September only to fall at the second-last fence.
“He was unlucky to fall at Ballinrobe, as we felt he would have won and gone on to progress from there. He picked up a small injury after the fall, but he is fine again and we hope to have him out in three weeks’ time. He is probably more effective on good ground and he wouldn’t want winter heavy ground, but I’d be hopeful he’ll be fine on soft ground between now and Christmas.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A half-brother to the useful chaser Oscar Hill, he shaped with promise in a maiden hurdle at Navan prior to disappointing in a valuable bumper at the Punchestown Festival.
“We’re very happy with him at the moment. He didn’t run up to form at Punchestown, but he needs soft ground and he just didn’t let himself down on it at all. Steven Clements rode him that day and he did a good job of looking after him once it was clear that he wasn’t acting on the ground. We’ll hopefully have him out at the beginning of November and he’ll go straight for a bumper.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 15,000 euro yearling from the family of Gunner Welburn, he ran well to finish second in bumpers at Leopardstown and Punchestown last season.
“We were very happy with his run at Punchestown, but he needs it softer than that and we think he’ll do better when he gets that type of surface. He’s a lot stronger this season and he’s one to look forward to. He’s about three weeks away from a run and will start back in a bumper.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 140-rated chaser, he made a winning chasing debut at Galway in August 2013 and has since made up into a useful handicapper, finishing a very close second in the Irish Grand National in April 2014. He hasn’t been seen since October 2014.
“He picked up a slight suspensory ligament injury last year that led to him missing last season. He’s 100% now and is only back to us in the last couple of weeks, but he will be trained with the Aintree Grand National in mind.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 140-rated hurdler and 131-rated chaser, he was one of the stars of the 2013/14 juvenile hurdle division, winning the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown and the Grade 1 Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting, as well as finishing third in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He has been lightly raced since, but made it second-time lucky over fences when winning a maiden at Kilbeggan in August.
“He was a little bit disappointing at Listowel, but the ground was exceptionally bad there that day. There had been quite a bit of rain there and I was hoping it would be loose heavy ground that he could handle, but it was an absolute gluepot and he just got very tired on it. If the ground isn’t too firm, he’ll run again soon and I’m hopeful he can progress into a Graded novice chaser. He only ever does enough, so he’ll hopefully keep improving.”==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 151-rated hurdler, after one run over fences he was returned to hurdling and made a successful transition into open company last season, winning the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
“He’s in very, very good shape. He didn’t run up to expectations at Cheltenham, but he got wound up in the preliminaries and almost bolted to the start, as well as meeting with interference in the race, so it’s an easy run to forgive. He’s about a month away from a run and the plan is to send him back over fences. He did nothing wrong in his only start over fences last season and it was a subsequent Grade 1 winner that beat him, but reverting to hurdles and giving him the extra season over them really crowned him in physical terms. He’s bigger and stronger and is really ready for fences now. He’s a fantastic jumper of a fence at home and we really can’t wait to get him out on the track.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 155-rated chaser, he hasn’t won since his winning chasing debut at Galway in October 2012, but has run some excellent races in defeat, most notably when second to Lord Windermere in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013 and when only beaten 6¾ lengths in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March 2014. He missed last season due to injury.
“He picked up an injury just before he was to make his comeback last year that ruled him out for the season, but he’s been treated and been given all the time he needed and is back in full training now. The plan is to start him back in mid-November, he’s in great form and we are hopeful that he retains all of his ability. He was able to compete in all those Grade 1 races when he was only six years old, so hopefully he can get in the mix again. In time, I could see him running in the Aintree Grand National, he’s that type.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 121-rated chaser and a 112-rated hurdler, he joined Hughes from Shark Hanlon during the 2013/14 season and won his last three starts when last seen in May/June 2014, namely two handicap chases and a handicap hurdle.
“He picked up an injury after his last run, but he was treated and given his time to recover. I was happy with his comeback run at Limerick on Sunday and hopefully he can come forward from that. He’s likely to mix it up between hurdles and fences and while he is better on better ground, he should be fine on softer ground.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 131-rated hurdler, he won a Listed novice hurdle at Naas in March.
“He is about a month away from a run and the plan is to go chasing with him. We’re really looking forward to him, as he was bought to be a chaser. We ran him at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, but it was probably just one run too many for the season, as he had been on the go for a long time at that stage. I wouldn’t have any worries about going two-and-a-half miles with him again.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 136-rated chaser, he won the Munster National and the Cork Grand National in 2012, but had injury issues after that. Having made his return in 2013/14, he finished a creditable eighth in the Aintree Grand National in April 2014 and finished second in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in March.
“He picked up a nasty injury in the Scottish Grand National. He made a mistake at the second fence and we think that’s where he did the damage. However, he is recovered and is a couple of months off a run. We are going to aim him at the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, as he finished second in it last season and seemed well suited by it.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 139-rated hurdler, he enjoyed a productive first half to the 2014/15 season, winning bumpers at Kilbeggan and Galway prior to winning his first two starts over hurdles in a maiden and novice hurdle at Fairyhouse. He met with a setback after the last-named success that saw him ruled out for the rest of the season.
“He’s a problem horse and has been difficult to train, but we’ve taken our time with him and he’s getting there. The hope is that he’ll be back on the track in about a month. He’ll stay hurdling this season. We are excited about him, but it’s a day-to-day thing with him and thankfully he has a very patient owner.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 134-rated chaser, he was a progressive novice chaser in 2013/14 and has been competing in valuable handicap chases since then.
“Unfortunately, he cracked a bone at the back of his knee in the Topham in his last start, but he’s had his time and back sound again. He’s the type that will run in all those valuable handicap chases.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 139-rated hurdler, he is a half-brother to Lord Windermere that progressed into a high-class novice hurdler last season, with the highlight being his victory in a Grade 2 contest at Thurles in February.
“The plan is to go novice chasing with him and he’ll hopefully be out in three weeks or so. He’s really filled out over the summer and he looks a real three-mile chaser. He’s very tough and we’ve always really liked him, so we can’t wait to get him out onto the track.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 146-rated chaser, he came good over fences in the second half of last season, with the highlight being his surprise 20/1 win in the Irish Grand National in April.
“The big aim with him will be the Aintree Grand National. He is rated a lot lower over hurdles than fences and we’ll probably start him back over hurdles in the first week in November. Though, he never had much interest in hurdles, so I wouldn’t expect him to be overly competitive there. After that, the plan will be the Becher Chase at Aintree and all being well there, it’ll be a case of building him up to the Aintree Grand National.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 127-rated hurdler, he won a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in February and acquitted himself well in stronger company thereafter.
“The plan is to go novice chasing with him. He was a little bit disappointing last season, but we discovered that he had an issue with a kissing spine and we are dealing with that. He’s sound and well and the hope is that he’ll be out in a month or so. He’s an exciting horse and I’m hopeful he’ll do well this season.” ==ENDHTML==
==STARTHTML==A 124-rated hurdler, he won a maiden hurdle at Thurles in December and acquitted himself well in stronger company thereafter.
“He’s a half-brother to Thunder And Roses and it wouldn’t surprise me if they prove to be similar in that they don’t have much interest in hurdling, but improve a lot when sent over fences. He should be out in a maiden chase in a few weeks.” ==ENDHTML==