Grapevine tells Leech his po­ten­tial is pay­ing off

Gloucestershire Echo - - RACING -

HAV­ING an eye for horses with un­tapped po­ten­tial from one of the lead­ing yards in the coun­try con­tin­ues to pay hand­some div­i­dends for El­ton-based trainer So­phie Leech.

For­mer Nicky Henderson in­mate Grapevine snaf­fled one of sum­mer jump rac­ing’s most im­por­tant con­tests at the week­end, over the min­i­mum trip at Mar­ket Rasen.

It was a par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy vic­tory be­cause the six-year-old was pur­chased with the race in mind just nine days ear­lier.

Leech booked top con­di­tional jockey Con­nor Brace to ride inthe Listed Bet­way Sum­mer Hand­i­cap Hur­dle­and he ex­tended his 18th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions by scoop­ing the £22,780 prize.

It was Grapevine’s first run over hur­dles for more than 400 days, as he was last seen rep­re­sent­ing Henderson in a hot novice race at Sandown won by the tal­ented Bal­ly­moy.

Leech has man­aged to win with many of her re­cruits from the five­time cham­pion trainer, in­clud­ing West Wiz­ard, Owen Glen­dower and Birch Hill.

Her lat­est buy from the Tat­ter­salls sale on July 11 cost 18,000 guineas and his length and three quar­ters tri­umph re­paid all of that on Satur­day.

“We know they are al­ways nice horses from Nicky Henderson’s and that makes life eas­ier,” said Leech.

“It’s just finding the right ones that work for us.

“Grapevine had been run­ning on the Flat for Char­lie Hills and we thought he would make a sum­mer jumper.

“We bought him with the Sum­mer Hur­dle in mind hop­ing he may sneak in at the bot­tom of the weights.

“We were re­ally pleased to see him win. For a small yard we seem to have a stel­lar bunch of horses at the mo­ment.”

At­ten­tions now turn to the Guin­ness Gal­way Hur­dle on Au­gust 1 and fine-tun­ing the prepa­ra­tion of Garo Du Juil­ley, one of three Bri­tish­trained en­tries.

Owned by Win­ston Churchill su­per-fan Ge­off Thomp­son, the seven-year-old has al­ready earned his keep with suc­cess in Chep­stow’s Grade Three Sil­ver Tro­phy.

“We thought we would have a crack at the Gal­way Hur­dle,” Leech added.

“He fin­ished his sea­son af­ter The Fes­ti­val and he goes well fresh.”

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