Ricky Holloway is hoping to challenge the record for the most consecutive wins by a hurdler with Turnhouse Jet who made it nine in a row at Central Park on Sunday writes Floyd Amphlett.
It is 14 months since the son of Laughil Duke and Jaytee China was disqualified in the heats of the All England Cup, and a year ago tomorrow, since his first unpromising handslip under the tutelage of Ricky Holloway where he clocked 17.49 (Hesitant3H) in his first sprint hurdle solo at Central Park.
But the advice of former hurdles specialist Tom Foster would have been comfort to his long time owner turned trainer, “it takes six months to make a hurdler”
Jet backed up the advice because by June of this year, Jet’s hurdling record showed one win from 18 races. In the following 18, he has 14 victories.
Holloway said: “I remember his first trial at Hove. He stopped in front of the hurdle, jumped about twelve feet in the air and I thought, ‘My God, what have I done?’
“I took him to Crayford and he couldn’t decide where he wanted to run. But I switched him back to Central Park and he never looked back.
“I am not sure what the record for straight wins should be. I remember it was held by El Tenor on 11, which Linda Jones equalled with a dog I owned, Rossa Ranger. I believe Plantinumlancealot had 12, though I understand that there were a positive sample for one of those wins, so I am not sure if it counts.
“Jet will be back to Central Park on Sunday and then the plan is for him to go for the Kent County Hurdle. If he could go through that unbeaten, there is a chance he could take the record in the year.”
Holloway admits that hurdlers are not everyone’s cup of tea. But they offer opportunities for a second chance for young dogs who have blotted their copybooks. Some of us love the off-the-wall temperaments that so often come as part of the hurdling package.
Holloway laughs: “There was a new kennel girl at Central Park who led around her first runner last week. At the pick-up she was shouting ‘what am I supposed to do?’. It can be a bit like a rugby scrum when the hurdlers all pile in. Great entertainment!”
Holloway has a team of eight lined up for Ceansport Springbok which gets underway in February.
He said: “They all have their own story. One of the most interesting is Cain Hill (disq. at Nottingham in October ’18) who broke a hock in January while being prepared for this year’s Springbok. The vet didn’t think he would ever run again, but six months later he was running around the paddock without a care in the world. I gave him a handslip and he came off fine. At four and a half, he has won his last two opens.
“Droopys Cruiser was disqualified in the Monmore Puppy Derby but has the fastest qualification time for the Springbok to date, 29.15. Kevin Boon had Bockos Tiger who was disqualified in the Derby, but has the sprint hurdle record at Central Park. Nomansland Flyer and Droopys Shark were both disqualified at Monmore. Flyer’s owner thought the dog was too young to retire (Sep 17), which is why they decided to give him a try over hurdles.
“King Sinatra (honest on the flat) was from Rab’s very good litter. He started well but picked up a cartilage problem. At least he is qualified, and will be back shortly. Which leaves The Other Harley.”
And his story?
Rather like a defensive social worker describing one of his charges, Holloway replies: “I admit he is proving the toughest challenge. He needs to learn to concentrate. . .”
With schooling complete for all bar the enigmatic The Other Harley, Holloway has redemption spaces for three or four bad boys (or girls) in his canine rehabilitation unit.
He said: “You can’t just write the dogs off. The mentality for even some of the most wayward runners can be transformed over hurdles. Look at a dog like Romeo Inmiami. He had his card marked and then ran another 86 races over the jumps and never put a foot wrong.”