A FAILED plan to send Poet to stud could have welcome consequences for National Hunt racing as Clive Cox's Group Three-winning Flat runner made the ideal start to his hurdling career at Newbury.
While Cox is now an established Flat trainer, he used to ride over fences and Poet's new owner and regular work-rider just happens to be John Francome, acknowledged as one of the greatest jumps jockeys in history. So the recently-gelded seven-yearold was well drilled for his new vocation in the Coolmation Coolmation Maiden Hurdle, receiving a minor fright when fluffing the first obstacle but using his considerable cruising speed to win well.
Poet (3-1) won a 10-furlong Listed race at this course on his most recent appearance in July but encountered far different conditions here with heavy ground and a biting wind.
However, he handled it without a problem, jockey Dominic Elsworth holding him on a tight rein throughout to finish two and a quarter lengths clear in a race which has produced high-class animals like Colour Squadron, Minella Class and Oscar Whisky.
Cox, who has Poet registered under the name of his wife Tina and has Francome as his landlord, said: "I'm very pleased for John, who is his rightful owner and has done all of the schooling.
"He used to be a major handful, which, to be honest, is why he did not end up being a stallion.
"I'm pleased he has been able to have an alternative career and he looked like he's good at it, too. …