Saturday 18 November 2017

Shark sees Hidden gem

HIDDEN Cyclone will step up in class after making a winning debut over fences last week.

Shark Hanlon's seven-year-old won five out of six over hurdles but was always viewed as a chaser by his connections.

Hidden Cyclone saw off some above-average rivals without coming under serious pressure at Leopardstown.

Hanlon was keen on keeping him low-key in the immediate aftermath, but has now changed his mind.

"I thought it was a hell of a performance first time over fences," said the Co Carlow handler.

"We still don't know how good he is. Andrew McNamara said he never came out of second gear and he jumped like a buck.

"I was going to take him to Fairyhouse for a winners-of-one but I think I'll take him back to Leopardstown for a Grade Two at the Irish Champion Hurdle meeting.

"Andrew said they couldn't go fast enough for him, yet to me it looked like they were going a good lick.

"He was absolutely hacking turning in and Andrew said he couldn't believe when he looked round that everyone was hard at it.

"That meant he was in front sooner than ideal but he had no choice as he was going so well.

"I was thrilled with him."

Hanlon also revealed that Western Leader will return to Punchestown later this month after delighting the trainer on his comeback run on Saturday.

The eight-year-old had been off the track since breaking down badly at the Grand National meeting in April 2010.

Hanlon believes the fast action of the racecourse vets at Aintree saved Western Leader's life, let alone his career.

Western Leader showed he could still be a force this season after finishing second to Mikael D'Haguenet at Punchestown on New Year's Eve.

"It was a hell of a performance after so long off the track," said Hanlon.

"We've got to thank the English vets. He could quite easily have been put down but we wanted to keep him, just as a pet if anything.

"But they did a good job with him. They put a block under his hoof to take the pressure off and if it wasn't for that he wouldn't be here -- 100pc of the credit must go to them.

"Thankfully it looks as if he retains all of his ability. He'd only done one bit of work with Hidden Cyclone but the fact he was able to work with him told me we could bring him back.

"There's a winners-of-two race at Punchestown in three weeks he'll go for next because, despite him running so well in Graded races, he's only ever won twice over hurdles.

"He probably would have won the Grade One at Liverpool without coming off the bridle so we know how good he is."

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