Kirby seeking National honours at Catterick

Little Bruce bidding to go one better than last year in North Yorkshire feature.

  • Wednesday 08 January
  • News
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A new name will be on the roll of honour for the first time since 2015 in the Watt Fences North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase, with Sue Smith not represented.

In that time, Smith has won the three-mile-six-furlong marathon with Lackamon, Straidnahanna, I Just Know and Sharp Response.

I Just Know was set to be her representative this year, but a minor setback ruled him out, leaving the way clear for someone else to claim the prize – with last year’s runner-up Little Bruce heading the queue.

Phil Kirby’s charge went on to win the Cambridgeshire National in March, and performed admirably on his first start of the season over hurdles at Doncaster recently.

“He ran really well over hurdles. Ideally this is coming a little bit sooner than I wanted to run him, but I feel this is a race he should be running in, as it looks a nice opportunity,” said Kirby.

“He came out of his race really well, he obviously handles the track and the ground should be fine – he stays all day, so there are plenty of positives.

“In an ideal world I’d give him an extra couple of weeks, but the race is there and he had a nice blow around Doncaster when he just needed it.

“He just came in a bit later than the others after a very small blip at the end of last season, it was nothing really. He’d had a long season last year, so was a bit later getting going.”

He added: “It was good ground when he ran in the race last year and you’d think that would be a one-off, but they are calling it good again, which is weird. He handles all ground anyway, he just wouldn’t want extremes. There is rain forecast as well.

“He looks to have a really good chance, it’s just if it comes too soon – he’s a hardly little thing, though.”

Tom George is sending Sumkindofking north from his Gloucestershire base, while Bryony Frost teams up with the veteran Milansbar, on whom she won the Classic Chase at Warwick and finished fifth in the Grand National in 2018.

Kirby seeking National honours at Catterick

Catterick 14:40, 9 January 2020

Catterick 14:40, 9 January 2020

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