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Handicapper Watch: Space Ship one to look out for in Fred Winter

The Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle is one of the most competitive races of the festival. The race accommodates juvenile hurdlers that are not quite up to Triumph Hurdle standard.

Honours are fairly even with four of the nine winners having been trained in Ireland since the inaugural running in 2005. There is another strong raiding party this year and one that catches the eye is Robert Hennessy’s Space Ship.

The chestnut son of Galileo was trained by John Gosden on the flat and showed promise as a two-year-old. He was runner-up at Doncaster and fourth behind Telescope at Newmarket.

He won his maiden on good to firm ground at Chester in May, stretching clear to beat Butterfly McQueen by two and a quarter lengths. He was unlucky when sixth in a handicap at Epsom on Derby day before heading to Royal Ascot’s King George V Handicap.

After briefly losing his position, William Buick brought him with a wide run to finish strongly in second behind Elidor. He was unable to land a blow in two subsequent starts and was sold to go hurdling.

He made his debut over hurdles in a particularly hot novice event won by Plinth from Ivan Grozny. He was given a gentle introduction, running a little too keenly early on but running on steadily to come home in fifth place.

Hennessy then brought him over to Musselburgh for the Triumph Hurdle Trial where he faded from the second last to finish fourth to Broughton. He completed his Cheltenham build-up when second at Gowran Park recently and has been allocated 10st 4lb to carry in the Fred Winter.

The news that the ground is drying up at Prestbury Park will be encouraging for connections and it would be no surprise to see him step up considerably on his soft ground form. He also has a provisional entry in the Triumph Hurdle but is only likely to run there if missing out on a run in the Fred Winter.