Harry Whittington: My Stable
As any trainer will testify, losing a racehorse is a bitter pill to swallow and when it is a stable star that feeling of sadness and pain is simply intensified, something Harry Whittington knows only too well.
Harry Whittington is hoping to build on last season's success
Less than a month on from celebrating the success of Arzal in the Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree, a win which provided him with his first at Grade One level, the Sparsholt handler was mourning the loss of the six-year-old after he suffered an injury and infection that was to be fatal.
Although the five-times race winner will always provide Whittington with many fond memories, he has moved on as he prepares to find a new prospect that will give him more days to savour.
"Obviously Arzal winning at Aintree was a big breakthrough for us and we couldn't have expected the season to go as well as it did," said Whittington.
"We had more than 20 winners and our best prize-money total and the Grade One win topped it off to make it the season beyond expectations.
"It was unfortunate what happened to Arzal because a lot of hard work had gone into him to get him settled and relaxed.
"He had grown up and I think this year he would have gone on to win another Grade One, as he had only just started racing properly."
Picking five he is sweet on, Whittington added: "We are now building up our team of horses trying to find the next Arzal and hopefully we can kick on this season and really progress."
"He has to be a flag-bearer for us this year. We want to get wins into him and get his confidence up.
"He was lazy first time out but he is a very laid-back character and in a better race they will just take him along. He did it much better than it looked first time out and he was hardly blowing afterwards.
"We think we're going to put him back into handicaps, though, to get him to travel. Those races suit him. He's a bit lairy.
"We think he's being idle in races, like the one at Fontwell on his second start. We think he probably needs some headgear. He's got plenty of speed. It's just that he's very lazy.
"Around Christmas time I guess we might look at something like the Lanzarote over two and a half miles. He is exciting."
"I brought him in France. He won at AQPS bumper in April really well. He is owned by the Hennessy Six that owned Arzal. Although he will never replace him, he is the one we went out to buy for the syndicate.
"He is a proper horse. He is showing a lot of speed. I was kind of wondering whether to keep him in bumpers or go novice hurdling, but he is awesome schooling so we will just crack on over hurdles.
"Those championship bumpers can be tough on horses and he is four. He is very athletic and is a real natural jumping hurdles. He would be out towards the end of the month over two miles.
"He will be an exciting novice hurdler for this season. We will leave him from the bigger tracks and bide our time."
"He is an 146-rated hurdler and I've always said he will be a 10lb better chaser. He schooled his fences well and ran in three point-to-points. All has done since being with me has strengthened.
"He went out for a break and has come back in even stronger again. Gavin (Sheehan) had done work on him and said he was stronger this year. He was pretty awesome on his debut at Hereford.
"He will have entries in things like the RSA and National Hunt Chase. He is a dour stayer and he proved that at Haydock when he unseated at the last as there was no question he was going away.
"He is a proper stayer. At this stage I would think he is a bit more like a National Hunt Chase horse, but we will have to see. He will be a flag-bearer for sure."
"He is an unraced three-year-old. This horse is doing awesome things on the gallops at the moment. It is frightening. We picked him up as a store horse in June and he was really wild.
"When I was long reigning him I was struggling to get him relaxed.
"The transformation in three months has been unbelievable. He is like a pony now. He is doing some very good things and is strong for a three-year-old. He is more like a four-year-old physically. He is unbelievably forward and has a great constitution. He is really exciting me."
"We picked him up at Cheltenham in April. He ran in five point-to-points and got better and better until he won one.
"He is improving all the time. I bought him in April and turned him out for two months. I've never seen a horse grow so much.
"He was too weak to run well in point-to-points early on but as he got stronger he got more competitive.
"He is doing good things at home. He has got plenty of speed so we might start him off in a novice hurdle over two miles on a galloping track.
"He has got a fair engine. He will definitely be a two-and-a-half-mile horse towards the end of the season."
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