Asockastar, one of the heroes of the 2017/18 point-to-point and hunters’ chase season, is set to make his season’s debut at Leicester tomorrow.
The Daniel Bourne-owned-and-trained 11-year-old (pictured above) won a £1,000 Timico Mixed Open race at Chipley Park and was later runner-up in both the £25,000 Timico Mixed Open Hunters' Chase Final and the £25,000 Pertemps Champion Hunters' Chase at Stratford. Little wonder that Bourne says: "It was unbelievable – like a dream. We went to Cheltenham [for the Timico Final] thinking we might be fifth or sixth and finished second, and it was the same at Stratford.
"I didn't pay a lot for him, and certainly a good bit less than the £10,000 he won me in prizemoney.
"The dream now is to run in the [St James's Place] Foxhunter Chase at next month's Festival. I hope he's rated highly enough to get into the race, but we won't be going there expecting to win. It will just be a good day out, but we said that before and finished second.
"I was hoping to give him two runs before Cheltenham, but he spread a shoe before Christmas and a nail went into his foot, and that became an abscess. He had three easy weeks of stopping and starting, but he's well now.
"Bradley Gibbs normally rides him, but he is so busy with his yard and getting runners ready for the weekend that he has had to cry off, so I've booked Shane Quinlan, who looks a tidy rider and claims 3lb [in hunters' chases]."
Vaccination requirements following the equine flu outbreak in two racing yards has almost certainly been a factor in both the race at Leicester, the Dick Saunders Novices' Hunters' Chase and also the racingtv.com Open Hunters' Chase at Kelso being reduced to just four runners.