George readying class string
Tom George is excited about the forthcoming National Hunt season after identifying potential early-season targets for some of his stable stars.
The Slad-based handler has a strong team of horses this term, with stable stalwart Nacarat, dual winner of the newly-named Racing Plus Chase, joined by a younger brigade of horses including the likes of Baby Mix and Module.
Baby Mix bolted up on his British debut at Cheltenham in December, but disappointed at the same track a month later.
He bounced back to form when winning the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton and although he failed to make an impact on his final start in the Triumph Hurdle, George feels there is more to come from his four-year-old.
"Baby Mix is in full work and he's done really well over the summer, grown quite a lot and strengthened up," said the trainer.
"I think we're going to start off over hurdles and see if he can progress a bit more going down that route.
"He's rated 146, so he's going to have to progress, but there is every chance he can improve again.
"There is a conditions race at Kempton at the end of October, so he might start off there. He will jump a fence so we can go down that route if we need to.
"Nacarat is in full work and working well. There are no specific plans at the moment and obviously it's going to be ground dependant.
"The main thing with him is making sure he's happy and feeling well in himself, so we'll see how we get on."
Module is another recruit from France and looked a class act when winning on his only appearance for George in a Cheltenham handicap in January.
"Module had a minor setback and missed the end of last season, but he's back in the full swing of things now and jumping fences is his game," said George.
"It's just a question of where we start off. He won't run over hurdles in England, but there is a possibility he could go to France for a hurdle race there.
"Otherwise, we'll just fine a beginners' chase for him in October somewhere."
Other horses George is looking forward to going to war with include Crack Away Jack, who was second at Aintree on his first start for the trainer, while one-time Grand National fancy Big Fella Thanks is a new recruit.
"Crack Away Jack ran well behind Big Buck's at Aintree and we're going to keep going down the staying hurdle route with him. His first target is the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on Charlie Hall day," said George.
"Big Fella Thanks is with us now and his training has been excellent.
"He missed last season but I'm very happy with him and the plan would be to give him one run before the Becher Chase.
"There is a race at Carlisle he could run in, or he might go to France. Hopefully he is over his problems.
"Sivola De Sivola's only blip was at the Festival where he finished dehydrated and distressed. He's had one or two mineral issues but he's had a nice holiday and is in good form now.
"His first big target is the big fixed brush hurdle race at Haydock on Betfair Chase day."