Richard Hobson has a return to hurdles pencilled in for Grand National possible Lord Du Mesnil.
The seven-year-old was last seen finishing second in the Grade Two National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Although a three-time winner over fences, he is yet to gain a victory over hurdles and therefore retains his novice status in that sphere – something Hobson plans to capitalise on in the early part of the new season.
After a racecourse gallop at Newbury, a reappearance over the smaller obstacles on home turf is the first intended step – with a trip across the channel to run at Auteuil then in the pipeline.
“He’ll start off in a novice hurdle,” said Hobson.
“We’ve got a couple of options at the beginning of November, and we might go to Kelso on the 7th. I haven’t quite decided, but he’s going to work at Newbury at the weekend – all mine are a couple of weeks away (from running).
“Then he’s going to Auteuil at the end of November for a novice hurdle, that’s the next stage.”
Two of the Lord Du Mesnil’s three victories have been at Haydock on soft or heavy ground – conditions Hobson is keen to return to when stepping him back up to fences.
“He loves Haydock, so we’ll concentrate on Haydock during the winter,” he said.
“He loves very soft ground, so it just depends on what type of winter we get.”
Lord Du Mesnil may eventually take his chance in the Grand National in April, a race he held an entry for last season before its cancellation – although Hobson explained his participation was already ruled out after the Cheltenham performance.
“He wouldn’t have run this year – he had too hard a race at Cheltenham,” he said.
“No doubt he will have a crack at the Grand National, whether or not it’s this year I don’t know.”
Another horse likely to be aimed at the Aintree showpiece is the eight-year-old Saint Xavier, who has recently been campaigned in France in the care of Patrice Quinton.
The gelding is likely to begin his season at Wetherby in the Grade Two Charlie Hall, before being introduced to the National fences in the Becher Chase.
“Saint Xavier runs in the Charlie Hall,” said Hobson.
“He’s working really well. He’s a beautiful horse, and I’m really pleased with him. He’ll go to the Becher after that, he’s a Grand National horse.”
Hobson’s involvement with racing on both sides of the channel is aided by a satellite yard he runs in Chantilly, housing a small string of horses he sent over to contest French jumping races.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” he said of the venture.
“We’ve had four runners and three winners out there, so it’s going well.
“It’s just a matter of juggling the two really – I’ve got a good team of horses in England and I’m very much looking forward to getting them going. Then I’ve got a little team in France, which would be a group of lesser horses, but they’re obviously very capable of winning races.”
The decision to establish the second yard was largely motivated by France’s superior prize-money, with the funds awarded for winning British races further depleted after the Covid-19 outbreak.
“I’ve picked up €50,000 from four runners,” added Hobson.
“I wouldn’t have done that with the horses I sent to France in England. I might have done that with my better horses in England, but not the group I sent to France.”