Cambridge trainer Mark Brooks is hoping that his jumpers El Disparo and El Fernando will be met by a better track at Riccarton on Wednesday for the second day of the Grand National Festival of Racing. The geldings started on Saturday, the first day of the meeting, and Brooks thought the going was too tough for both runners.
El Disparo will tackle the feature race of the day, the Hospitality New Zealand Canterbury 130th Grand National Hurdles (4200m), and Brooks believes the son of El Hermano will put in a good showing after his third-placing in the Sydenham Hurdles (3100m). “I was pretty happy with his run on Saturday, he probably just hit the wall the last little bit,” Brooks said. “I thought the track was a touch heavy for him, so hopefully these frosts over the last couple of mornings just might dry it out a little bit.”
El Disparo arrived with his stablemate at Riccarton on Friday after a two day trip and Brooks believes the eight-year-old gelding will improve off Saturday’s run. “He had a month between runs and I hadn’t done that much with the big trip down here and two races within four days, so he should improve a little bit with Saturday’s run under his belt I think.” Brooks said the eight-year-old has pulled up well after Saturday’s contest and he is looking forward to Wednesday’s test with the gelding. “He’s been good since Saturday, he’s happy and has eaten everything. If the track is slightly better than it was on Saturday, I’d be quietly confident that he’ll be a chance.”
TAB bookmakers have set Bad Boy Brown as a $3.70 race favourite for the race, while El Disparo has been labelled a $9.50 winning chance.
Brooks will also line-up El Fernando in the Racecourse Hotel and Motor Lodge Steeplechase (3200m) and he said the son of El Hermano has taken no harm from falling at the final fence in Saturday’s Maiden Steeplechase (3200m). “He looked like he was getting a bit tired and he had a lie down at the last,” Brooks said. “He seems to have taken no harm from that, so we will go again on Wednesday. “He was going well down the back straight. The steeplechase fences are on the outside, so the track is a bit better, and he wasn’t handling the heavier ground up the home straight. “It’s the same for him, a couple of fine days and a few frosts, it might be a touch better, so that might suit him too.”
Brooks doesn’t have any set plans with either jumper after Wednesday, however, he was toying with the idea of taking El Disparo across the Tasman to contest the Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) at Ballarat later this month. “I had the slightest inkling that if El Disparo won well on Wednesday, and travelled home well, I’d consider taking him to Australia for the Grand National Steeplechase. “But it just might be a bit too much travelling for him to get there this year.”