Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

This Kind of Horse Can Grow on You

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

This Kind of Horse Can Grow on You

Article excerpt

Byline: By Doug Moscrop

Alan Swinbank talks about Collier Hill ( his Plate hope with a Geordie connection ( to Racing Journalist of the Year Doug Moscrop.

WHEN an unraced three-year-old arrived at Thorndale Farm, near Melsonby, North Yorkshire, his new trainer didn't like him.

"He wasn't a bad sort but not my type of horse," said Alan Swinbank. "I had bought him blindly and he was on the smallish side."

However, a few months later when he took him to the gallops and put him through his paces, it was a different story. "We knew then he was extra special. He had gears."

By the way, Collier Hill is his name and he is now a contender for today's Northumberland Plate.

Swinbank was alerted to the horse by a contact in Newmarket who told him there was a nice horse from John Gosden's Manton stable going to the Ascot Sales and that he should go down and buy him.

"When I got him I put him out in the field and he had grown two or three inches before I brought him back in," recalls the trainer.

Collier Hill started his racing career by winning a Catterick bumper, and he has also won a hurdle race, but he has shown his best form on the Flat and six wins have come his way, notably the valuable Old Newton Cup at Haydock last summer.

Beaten by the progressive Hugs Dancer in the Cumberland Plate two years ago, the six-year-old now tries to go one better in the more prestigious Northumberland version despite reservations about the stamina-sapping two miles.

"I think he will be better over a slightly shorter trip but he gets two miles and is stronger now than he was when winning the Old Newton Cup, so we're hopeful he will run well even though the extra furlong could find him out," he reasoned.

Swinbank is not alone in thinking that the favourite Anak Pekan is the one they all have to worry about. …

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