Jones plots Fred Winter route for the promising An Bradan Feasa

By Sports Desk November 23, 2023

Jack Jones is dreaming of Fred Winter glory at the Cheltenham Festival with An Bradan Feasa after the three-year-old performed with real credit behind impressive scorer Burdett Road at the November Meeting.

Saddling what was his first runner at National Hunt’s flagship venue, the three-year-old – who was purchased out of Joseph O’Brien’s yard by owners Christopher and Mary-Ann Middleton – put up a fine display for the Newmarket handler, still holding the advantage when turning for home and approaching the last before ultimately having no answer to the blistering acceleration of the current Triumph Hurdle favourite.

An Bradan Feasa stuck on bravely to pick up a silver medal and although initially trying to convince himself there were options away from the Festival, Jones soon began to eye up a return to Prestbury Park in March for the son of Camelot.

“We will be working back from the Fred Winter,” said Jones.

“It makes sense and we have looked at lots of different angles. I did throw in the comment that Cheltenham isn’t the be all and end all, and then the next sentence we kind of agreed we have got to work back from Cheltenham.

“It was so special for me there on Saturday, I’ve been going to Cheltenham since I was a small boy, it is my local track from home and where my racing dream originates from.”

He went on: “Unless he takes a massive step forward, which he could do and he’s only had the two runs, then realistically we will let Burdett Road go and win the Triumph and on all known form we shouldn’t be beating that. There’s nothing we can do about that.

“They gave us 127 and I thought the winner would get 140 and we would get 128, so I wasn’t a million miles off and from having a scroll through the last few years that looks a nice rating for the Fred Winter.

“He’s got course form, touch wood he jumps impeccably and to have runners at Cheltenham, let alone the Cheltenham Festival, is a huge dream of mine. He’s exciting and the good day was topped off by Star Mind winning at Wolverhampton that evening.”

Jones is still to finalise An Bradan Feasa’s route to the Festival but is not short of options and is tinkering with a two-race plan that includes a possible trip north of the border before arriving at Cheltenham in the spring.

He added: “As easy as it is to get excited about races in between, I have to be mindful he is still only a baby and that was only his second ever run. He did have the Flat run, but that was a non-event and Joseph ran him over hurdles only 13 days after his Flat debut.

“So I have to be careful just to mind him and I don’t know where, but I think two runs between now and Cheltenham will be sensible and then we can go to Cheltenham fresh and well.

“We’ve got options and I haven’t looked in-depth. There is a Listed race at Aintree in a couple of weeks or he could just go and try and win a midweek juvenile hurdle with a penalty. My vet and Christopher have both mentioned the Musselburgh Triumph Hurdle Trial as well, so that could be a nice option and it might suit him round there.

“We’ve got a lot of exciting options, but maybe a midweek juvenile, Musselburgh, then the Fred Winter would be the potential route.”

Although predominantly associated with training runners on the Flat, Jones has a strong National Hunt grounding having ridden out for Nicky Henderson during his university days as well as serving as pupil assistant to Kim Bailey and Paul Nicholls before attentions turned to Newmarket and the faster thoroughbreds.

Having thrived with the Middleton’s Our Scholar over obstacles throughout the summer months, the young handler is now relishing the prospect of having a top operator to run over obstacles during the winter.

“He’s only been with me around six weeks and we took him for a racecourse gallop two weeks before Cheltenham. We actually took him with a nice horse called Pleasant Man who ran a week later and he finished fourth in the November Handicap.

“For my first runner at Cheltenham it was some thrill to have him still in front turning in. He jumped impeccably, travelled well and Tom (Bellamy) gave him a good ride. He was jumping himself to the front and he’s got a lovely, gorgeous big stride and Tom did the right thing by letting him use himself.

“I was getting very excited between the second last and the last but we were beaten by a good one and Christopher and Mary-Ann were over the moon. He looks a fun horse not only for this year, but you would hope he would be around for a good few years.”

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