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RACING: Webber sets his sights on big-race success
Paul Webber is under no illusions that he needs to produce high-profile winners from his Mollington stables, near Banbury, this season.
The master of Cropredy Lawn concedes that last term’s 22 winners fell well below expectations – and goes as far as saying that this campaign is crucial to the yard’s future.
With his gallop being washed away by torrential rain in December followed by several heavy snowfalls, the winners dried up. But with his 63 boxes full now, Webber believes he has the ammunition to get back into the winner’s enclosure.
“We have got to start winning those big races because that is where you get more exposure,” he says.
“We definitely have more proven horses this year.”
Stable star Time For Rupert’s campaign was cut short after one start by a leg injury, and further drama followed when the gelding had to undergo major surgery to remove a growth from his head.
“It frightened us all to death,” says Webber.
But the good news is the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup fifth is well on the road to recovery, with the Crabbie’s Grand National as a potential target.
Before then, Webber will look to start him off in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 21.
Much is also expected of Cantlow, who was strongly fancied for the Byrne Group Plate at the Cheltenham Festival last season only to be withdrawn at the start after suffering a nosebleed.
He was among Webber’s string which paraded at the recent owners’ open day, when a crowd of around 220 were in attendance.
Alasi, described by the trainer as the ‘Queen of Cropredy’, is set for her last season before heading off to stud.
She could start off in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle at Wetherby on November 2, which she won in 2011 and was second in last year, or the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter three days later.
High hopes are also held for Sixty Something, the winner of three handicap hurdles last term, as he goes novice chasing.
“If he remains sound this season I would be amazed if he doesn’t win a good race,” says Webber.
Dunlough Bay, who won novice hurdles at Lingfield and Ludlow last term, is another exciting chasing prospect.
Of the younger horses, Webber is looking forward to seeing the likes of Couldhavehaditall, Rhapando, Koolala and Devon Drum go hurdling.
TO obtain a copy of Paul Webber’s horses in training brochure, send £10 to Cropredy Lawn, Mollington, Banbury, OX17 1DR.
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