Hanlon targets Thurles for Western Leader


RACING:Western Leader is being lined up for a trip to Thurles later this month after securing his first victory in the best part of three years at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day.

After breaking down badly when second in a Grade One novice hurdle at Aintree in the spring of 2010, some vets advised Shark Hanlon the gelding should be put down.

However, Western Leader’s life was saved and although he was initially retired from racing, he made a shock return last winter.

He showed he retained plenty of enthusiasm with a couple of notable performances over hurdles and he made an emotional winning debut over fences earlier this week.

Hanlon said: “He’s come out of the race super, there’s not a bother on him. We were delighted with how he performed on the day. They thought he was a goner after Aintree and to come back and win a race is brilliant.

“Like Barry said to me after the race, if he doesn’t win again it doesn’t matter. We’ve done what we wanted to do with him. He’s in great form and I think he’ll improve a good bit for the run. The plan now is to go for a winner’s race in Thurles on January 17th. The problem for a horse like him is there are so few opportunities in Ireland.”

Farmleigh House

Meanwhile, Farmleigh House gets his first taste of British racing as he lines up in the lingfieldpark.co.ukHandicap at the Surrey venue tomorrow.

Farmleigh House, trained by Willie Martin in Co Wexford, arrives in search of a third win in a row after victories on the Polytrack at Dundalk in both November and December. The six-year-old defied an 8lb hike in the ratings on the latter occasion when he easily accounted for Knock Stars.

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