Impressive resurgence expected to continue with strong team
The days of Peddlers Cross, Overturn, Ballabriggs, Whiteoak and Cinders And Ashes may be in the past, but a new dawn is lighting up Bankhouse Stables.
After a period of rebuilding and restocking necessitated by the break-up with owners Paul and Clare Rooney almost exactly three years ago, Donald McCain’s star is once again in the ascendancy.
There might not be a horse in the stable the calibre of Peddlers Cross just yet, but McCain has high hopes for a team which includes the very useful chaser Cloudy Dream plus a horse he is conspicuously sweet on, Uppertown Prince, who could take high rank in the novice chase division.
McCain is strengthening all the time. Only last week he took charge of the Elite Racing-owned Constancio, an 85-rated middle-distance handicapper on the Flat for Jim Bolger, and juvenile hurdle prospect Liva, his first horse for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
Expect to see him have plenty of runners – and winners – on deep ground at Haydock this winter once again, and keep an eye on two of his juvenile hurdlers, Breakfast and Ormesher, who are likely to continue their progress after making excellent starts to their new careers.
The appointment of Brian Hughes as stable jockey has already paid dividends – as McCain says, “he’s been the standout jockey in the north over the last few years, and to have him on-side can only be good for us” – and, while the yard is highly unlikely to get near its best ever tally of 153 winners recorded during the 2011-12 campaign, a first century since 2013-14 would surely signal a complete recovery from the 2015 bombshell in impressively quick time.
Donald McCain's list of Runners
Racing Post Rating: 127 (hurdles); official rating 126 (hurdles)
Info: Four-year-old gelding Cacique (sire) - Wemyss Bay (dam) Owner: G E Fitzpatrick
When I bought him off the Flat he had a bit of a reputation, but he’s done his job and gone out and won three races over hurdles. He’s got an unorthodox head carriage – that’s just the make and shape of him – but his jumping is so much slicker now and he's improved. He ran another solid race at Wetherby the other day and hopefully there’s more to come.
RPR 135h OR 130h
Info: 6g Authorized - Pentatonic Mr D Owens
He was a cheap purchase last month considering he won a handicap hurdle at the big Galway meeting in August. He has his aches and pains, but clearly has an engine.
RPR 147h OR 142h
Info: 6g Balko - Ina Scoop D G Carrington
He’s a great little horse who never runs a bad race. We’ve toyed with the idea of going chasing, but are going to stay handicapping in two-mile soft-ground hurdles. He’s particularly effective at Haydock on deep ground.
RPR 162c 140h OR 157c 137h
Info: 8g Cloudings - Run Away Dream Trevor Hemmings
We’re still learning about him. He’s a high-quality chaser who we’ll start off in the Old Roan at Aintree. His work has been great and it’s nice to have him. He finished second to Altior in the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham a couple of seasons ago and is obviously a lovely horse to have around the place. Mr Hemmings has always been a big supporter of mine and we’ll make a plan with Mick Meagher as we go along.
RPR 141c OR 142c
Info: 6g Al Namix - Polismith Green Day Racing
He has won nine races in less than two years. I took a chance with him over a longer trip on a couple of occasions at Cartmel in the summer. He won the first and would have won the second as well but for hitting a patch of false ground at the second-last. I think he’ll improve in two-mile handicap chases with the hood left off.
RPR 118h OR 103h
Info: 11g Dansili - Kali Mrs Sian McCain
Danceintothelight loves Catterick, and I'm hoping the handicapper drops him enough so that he can get into a suitable race there this winter. Look out for him over 2m3f round there with my daughter Abbie on board.
RPR 137c 128h OR 130c 119h
Info: 9g Overbury - Vado Via M4 Properties Ltd
He had a little knock after the Cross Country at Cheltenham in March and it’s taken us time to get him back. He’ll go straight for the Becher or Grand Sefton at Aintree. Hopefully there's a big day in him.
Fin And Game
RPR 133h OR 129h
Info: 6g Oscar - Miss Cilla T G Leslie
He didn’t do a lot wrong on his first start novice chasing last Thursday at Carlisle. He jumped really well, and was just a bit fresh after getting lit up in the stables. I still get the impression that he’s playing at the job. The race we ran him in at Ayr in April probably wasn’t suitable. He’s definitely got an engine but maybe he doesn’t know it himself just yet. I hope the penny will drop.
Info: 4g Coastal Path - Gaelika T G Leslie
He’s not a big horse, which is probably why he didn’t make huge money at the sales, but has grown over the summer. He was very impressive when winning his point-to-point in Ireland, and he’s sharp enough to be started off in a bumper. He’s one for the future.
RPR 139c 131h OR 132c 128h
Info: 9g Kutub - Karalee Trevor Hemmings
He was a bit unlucky last season. At Aintree in December he was spooked when the flagman dropped his flag, and he lost 15 lengths at the start before being beaten a nose by Play The Ace. He was travelling very sweetly when he fell five out at Ayr later on, and will hopefully enjoy better fortune this term. We may consider putting some headgear on in the future.
RPR 129h 121c OR 127h 123c
Info: 6m Exit To Nowhere - Scarvagh Diamond D & D Armstrong Ltd
She hasn’t been with me long. There are lots of opportunities to sneak a bit of black type in mares’ novice chases throughout the season and that’s the route she’ll go down. She’s the first horse I’ve trained for David Armstrong.
RPR 151c 131h OR 130c 129h
Info: 9g Old Vic - Lady’s Gesture T G Leslie
He’s had plenty of problems with his back. He ran a nice race over hurdles at Carlisle last season when second to My Old Gold. It will be a case of finding the right race on the right day with him – over hurdles or fences. He reappeared at Carlisle last Thursday, and travelled beautifully in a 3m handicap chase for a long way. In the short-term we’ll go back to a flat track and hurdles.
RPR 129h OR 130h
Info: 7g Robin Des Pres - Tudor Style Deva Racing Knockrobin Partnership
He should have won more races than he has, but he’s been a little immature and just plays at the job a bit. I see him as a 3m staying novice chaser for races in the north. He’s been crying out for a fence.
RPR 141c 135h OR 132c 132h
Info: 8m Flemensfirth - Lakil Princess Sarah Leslie and Beryl McCain
She left her season at Haydock in December. It was the first race of the day on very bad ground and she and Jonniesofa took each other on for two miles; it was brutal up the straight. She went on to nick some black type at Leicester, but wasn’t herself. She’ll go back chasing and can hopefully win a decent staying handicap.
RPR 136c 134h OR 137c 122h
Info: 7g Multiplex - Sherry Darling Mrs C P Lees-Jones
He’s doing his job really well and stays further than I thought he would. He was very tough at Cartmel and then improved again to win at Bangor. He doesn’t want deep ground.
RPR 150h 145c OR 140h 139c
Info: 7g Presenting - Kneeland Lass Trevor Hemmings
He’s a nice horse who arrived in the summer. He had a ‘nearly’ season last year and appears fairly treated as a result. He’s grand, and will go chasing. I’m very happy with him. If we can get him switched off in staying handicap chases he should do well.
Info: 7g Touch Of Land - La Principal Jon Glews
He’s a pretty useful horse. We sent him for a Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Aintree to make him grow up a bit more – we did something similar with The Last Samurai. He missed last season but is cantering away and looks great. He's every inch a chaser.
RPR 129h 122c OR 127h 122c
Info: 7g Indian Danehill - Our Ethel Mr and Mrs G Calder and P M Warren
He’s been off the course quite a while and didn’t jump particularly well in his only race over fences at Perth last September behind Ballyandy. He’s a very attractive horse and his work of late has been quite solid. He should find an opening or two in novice handicap chases up north.
Noah And The Ark
RPR 117h OR -
Info: 4g Vinnie Roe - Well Water Bart Ryan-Beswick
I was quite upset when I got into trouble over the way he was ridden at Bangor. My job as a trainer is to find a way for a horse to run its best race. We rode him differently that day, and I got fined and the horse banned basically for just doing my job. I think we’ve subsequently proved that’s the way to ride him as he came from well off the pace to win at Stratford and Kelso. They were both bad races, but he was quite impressive and is clearly going the right way.
Info: 5g Stowaway - Night Palm Mr J Turner
Form: 21 (point form)
He’s slightly different to Gaelik Coast in that he is 17 hands – a tall, lean, striking grey. He won a point-to-point a couple of weeks after he narrowly got beat on his debut. An intriguing horse who looks every inch a staying chaser, he is a nice prospect to have. Young recruits like him and Gaelik Coast are the future.
RPR 144c 139h OR 139c 128h
Info: 7g Protektor - Amicus Straightline Bloodstock
I bought him at the sales with no aspirations of trying to improve one of Nicky Henderson’s, but because I think he can do well on deep-ground in the north. There is good prize-money available for this type of horse at the likes of Newcastle, Ayr and Wetherby. He’s a great big horse with a round action.
Raise A Spark
RPR 140c 127h OR 134c 127h
Info: 8g Multiplex - Reem Two R Pattison and R Kent
He’s a fun horse who we bred – a little bit wild, but as tough as nails. He probably wants 2m on slow ground, and we’ll take our time and regroup after he ran a bit flat at Perth last time. He has a bit more ability than some give him credit for.
Robbing The Prey
RPR 140c 115h OR 135c 118h
Info: 7g Robin Des Pres - Derravarra Lady The Bells Steakhouse Ltd
I’ve seen him plenty of times in the north of England. He put up a really good display of jumping and galloping when he won at Haydock in May. He’s a grand, strong horse, and there should be some good opportunities for him back at Haydock this season.
RPR 134c 123h OR 127c 120h
Info: 7m Brian Boru - Curragh Orpen Penketh and Sankey Jech Racing Club 1
She had a good season last year, winning at Catterick and Bangor, even though she didn’t quite get the ground she wanted. While there are plenty of chases for mares there aren't many mares’ handicaps. Her big day was supposed to be at Cheltenham in April, but the mares’ chase was one of the races to be abandoned owing to the very high temperatures at that time of year.
Info: 5g Vinnie Roe - Bella’s Bury Special Piping Materials Ltd
He’s only tiny, but hard as nails. He can be too brave for his own good and has taken a couple of falls, but has won two of his last four starts – minor events at Uttoxeter and Sedgefield. He’ll get 3m and will jump a fence at some stage.
Info: 10g Monsun - Sahool Donald McCain
I bought him in the summer of last year for my daughters Abbie and Ella to ride, and never expected him to achieve the rating he now has. He’s an old horse with a high rating – which probably isn’t justified – so he’ll be hard to place. He’s only a pony, but has given everyone here great fun, and is a pleasure to have around.
RPR 150c 134h OR 145c 134h
Info: 7g Witness Box - Tanya Thyne Trevor Hemmings
I trained his full-brother Wymott, who won a Grade 2 staying hurdle at Haydock, so I know the family and they do have days when they disappoint a bit. Testify is very effective in small fields on bad ground as he showed at Haydock last winter. He was below his best in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham after making an early mistake. We’ve had his wind operated on and will be focusing on staying handicap chases at Haydock. He’s undoubtedly a useful horse – his brother finished sixth to Carruthers in the Hennessy – but I’m still trying to work him out.
RPR 142h OR 140h
Info: 6g Strategic Prince - Tarrawarra T G Leslie
I’m very fond of this horse, and he’s arguably my best prospect. I bought him because of the way he jumped throughout when winning his point-to-point and I’m really looking forward to sending him chasing this winter. He ran a really nice race when fourth to Santini in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, and also finished runner-up in a Haydock Grade 2 on heavy ground before winning as he liked at Ayr. He’s one to be excited about.
William Of Orange
RPR 135h OR 134h
Info: 7g Duke Of Marmalade - Critical Acclaim T W Johnson and G Maxwell
There are two Williams – he has his good days and his bad days. He’s been quite busy over the summer and is best dropped right out in his races before being produced with a late challenge. He also stays better now than we thought he would at one stage. He’s always likely to pop up during the course of the season but you wouldn’t necessarily know when that day will be.