Whisky bids for Ascot atonement

Fri 23rd Nov 2012, 13:03

photoOscar Whisky winning at Aintree
©Healy Racing Photos
Oscar Whisky bids to atone for his fall at the final flight last year as he tackles the Coral Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

Nicky Henderson's charge was upsides Overturn and seemed to have every chance in the two-and-a-half-mile heat when crashing out at the last hurdle.

That was the only slight disappointment in an otherwise fruitful campaign that culminated in a second Aintree Hurdle win in April.

The seven-year-old boasts an excellent record in that he has never been beaten away from Cheltenham when completing the course.

Henderson said: "Two and a half miles is blatantly his optimum trip.

"He was out on his feet after Cheltenham - he was very wobbly after the race - but to beat Thousand Stars by a neck at Aintree was fantastic.

"He'll go to Cheltenham at December and Cheltenham in January.

"Then we'll switch back to two miles for the Welsh Champion Hurdle, which was off last year.

"Then we might miss Cheltenham altogether - we might go for National Spirit at Fontwell in between - and then on to Aintree."

Owner Dai Walters is looking forward to seeing his star performer back in action and despite the ground riding on the soft side in Berkshire, he expects Oscar Whisky to handle the challenge.

"I don't know that the ground would be a problem - he's the kind of horse that can go on any ground really," he said.

"He's been a great servant and I love to see him run. I think he's got a good chance tomorrow but the most important thing, as always, is that he comes back in one piece."

Get Me Out Of Here was beaten just under two lengths by Oscar Whisky at Cheltenham last term but signed off the campaign with victory in a Fairyhouse Grade Two at Easter before returning with a win at Kempton.

Jonjo O'Neill's runner steps back up in trip for this race but jockey Tony McCoy knows more improvement is needed to top Oscar Whisky.

He said: "He won at Kempton on his first run (of the season), but he has to step up to beat Oscar Whisky - he has won the Aintree Hurdle a couple of times and is a dual Grade One winner, so he's going to be very hard to beat.

"We'll see how it goes. The trip shouldn't be a problem to him and he's been a great horse.

"He's been second at three consecutive Cheltenham Festivals, so if ever there was a horse you'd hope will go back and win at the Cheltenham Festival it would be him."

Frank Berry , racing manager for Get Me Out Of Here's owner JP McManus, expects the Ascot race to suit.

"He's in good form. It's a cracking race with Oscar Whisky and a few of them," he said.

"It will be nice to see him out again. He came out of his race at Kempton good and everything should suit him grand on Saturday."

Cohen not worried about ground for Run

Owner Robert Waley-Cohen is unfazed by the prospect of testing conditions for Long Run's seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase on Saturday.