McCain eager for Cross hurdles return

Peddlers Cross

Donald McCain is looking forward to seeing stable star Peddlers Cross return to hurdling next season following his no-show at Cheltenham last week.

Last season’s Champion Hurdle runner-up made an excellent start to his fencing career with two victories in minor events at Bangor, but was firmly put in his place by subsequent Arkle winner Sprinter Sacre at Kempton over Christmas.

McCain had found Peddlers Cross to be suffering from a muscle problem afterwards and while he nursed him back to fitness in time for the Festival, he failed to get competitive after being sent off favourite for the Jewson Novices’ Chase.

“He’s come out of the race fine and that’s him done for the season now,” said McCain.

“He can jump, but it is all just a bit too much of an effort for him. We’ve given it a try and it hasn’t worked out, so he’ll go back hurdling next season now.

“His work before Cheltenham had been as good as ever, so I don’t think there were any problems with him (physically).

“We’ll go back hurdling and we’ll just play it by ear regarding which races.”

With his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Cinders And Ashes set to be competing in all the top two-mile races next season, along with stablemate and Champion Hurdle runner-up Overturn, McCain now has three horses in the division.

“I mentioned the Fighting Fifth for Cinders And Ashes and with Peddlers and Overturn we actually have three of them going down that route,” said McCain.

“But there is still the possibility Overturn could jump a fence in the autumn and any of them could end up stepping up in trip, so things will sort themselves out.

“We’re a long way off making those decisions yet.”

McCain has yet to decide whether Cinders And Ashes will run again this season at Aintree next month, but does report the youngster to be in great heart.

“We’ll keep him grafting and we’ll ride him out for a week or so and see where we are with him,” the trainer continued.

“There is plenty of time for us to decide about Aintree. He seems very fresh and well, so we’ll see.”

Along with Peddlers Cross, the other big disappointment of the week for the yard was Gold Cup hope Weird Al.

The gelding was kept fresh after finishing third behind Kauto Star and Long Run in November’s Betfair Chase at Haydock but was pulled up at Cheltenham having suffered a broken blood vessel for the second successive year.

“I have a feeling the big occasion just got to him. Even in the pre-parade ring I found he was getting hotter and with everyone clapping Kauto Star everywhere he went, I think it just got our horse a bit worked up,” the trainer added.

“That is the only thing I can put it down to at the moment, but then he has done it before.

“We’ll look to Aintree for him. He’s still in the National and it will either be that or the Bowl.”

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