Goshen's final flight departure in the Triumph Hurdle with the race seemingly sewn up may have been the resounding image of the 2019/20 National Hunt season for the Gary Moore yard. However, fast-forward seven months, and things are right back on track.
The Sussex-based trainer has saddled 14 jumps winners since July, more than he had done in the same period for any of the last five campaigns.
He takes a four-strong team to Ascot on Saturday, and spoke exclusively to Tote about their chances at the weekend.
Big step up in class for Flaminger
Leading the quartet is Flaminger who rattled off a pair of wide margin wins at Plumpton and Fontwell last season, before finding things a bit harder on his next two starts.
“I gave him a tough time asking to carry massive weights in heavy ground in such a short space of time”, Gary said of the five-year-old, who runs in the Listed tote.co.uk Handicap Chase.
“It had to be done though, so I could strike while the iron was hot because of the handicap system.”
Moore is hoping for a bit more this term and sends his grey to battle on Saturday off the back of a win on seasonal reappearance at Fontwell.
“He was a weak horse last year, so hopefully he’s a bit stronger now.
“He did have a hard race when he won the other day, although it wasn’t a very good race. This is a big jump up in class, but if you’re not in them, you can’t win them.”
Said jump up in class sees Flaminger carry bottom weight of 10 stone in the Listed contest, a change from saddling top-weight at Class 3 level. His handler is hopeful that he can manage this new test.
“He’s a horse we like a lot. It isn’t the strongest 0-150 I’ve ever come across, so although he’s in a Listed race, it’s a weakish Listed class event.”
Handicap debut for Fifty Ball
Earlier on the card, Moore sends out Fifty Ball in the tote.co.uk Conditional Jockeys' Novices' Handicap Hurdle, owned, like the aforementioned Goshen, by Steven Packham.
Placed in two outings since arriving from France, his trainer is fairly optimistic about his chances off his opening handicap mark of 113.
“I was very pleased with his two runs since he’s joined us,” he told the Tote.
“Obviously the experience will help improve him even more. He’s not run on ground as soft as he will encounter on Saturday, which I think he wants.
“I’d like to think he’s fairly well handicapped, but obviously we’ll have to wait and see.”
Two others for the future
Two further runners in Berkshire might be more watching briefs for punters, but Moore remains hopeful that they are both horses with nice futures.
Editeur De Gite, carrying the same colours as former stable star Sire De Grugy has been pulled up and tailed off on two starts for the yard so far, and has had to wait for his campaign to get under this term.
“We’ve taken him out twice already this season, once because it was too firm and another time because it was too soft. He’s very much a good ground horse so I just hope we don’t get too much more rain,” his trainer told us ahead of his engagement in the 1:20 event.
“It’s a big ask for him first time out, but I’d like to think he can run a good race.”
Also set to make his seasonal debut is Sopran Thor who was last seen finishing a distant third behind subsequent hurdle winners Bear Ghylls and Guard The Dreams.
His bumper form has been franked, but it may be that his day will come in the future, rather than at Ascot on Saturday.
“He’s having his first run over hurdles for us and is probably best watched on this occasion. He’ll benefit from the run and the experience as he’s one for the future.”
Botox Has and Goshen plans
Away from Ascot, the Moore team will be looking forward to big seasons from two four-year-olds, the aforementioned Goshen and Botox Has who looked sublime in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at Cheltenham last week.
Although the handicapper has raised him 8lb for that win, we could see him in a handicap next time out.
“Botox Has went up a lump in the handicap from winning on Saturday, so his next run will probably be in what was the Gerry Fielden at Newbury,” Moore told the Tote.
Goshen sits fairly high on many ante post lists for the Champion Hurdle next March, but his trainer isn’t keen to be making any bold statements about his claims there just yet.
“I want to see him do it over hurdles before I start making statements like that. Their four-year-old year is one I find is their toughest year. Botox Has has proved good, so I just hope this fella can do the same.”
Favourite backers had their fingers burned in two outings on the flat over the summer, but for Moore, they were far from a disappointment.
“If you take notice of market expectations that’s probably a fair comment, but when you get beat by a horse that finishes second in a Group 2 two weeks later, you’d ask how bad was the run? I was delighted with his runs to be honest.”
As for where we’ll see Goshen next, the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on November 14th has been pencilled in, while Ascot the following week remains a back-up option.
Will Goshen or Botox Has make your Tote Ten To Follow competition? Entries for the big National Hunt competition open on Monday 2nd November.