Cheltenham Showcase: Graeme McPherson prepares to unleash 'smart' prospect
GRAEME McPherson will be looking to continue his winning run with potentially one of the best horses he has ever trained at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The Stow-on-the-Wold trainer – who also works as a QC – has enjoyed wins over the past week with Clarion Call and the versatile Harry Hunt to take his seasonal tally to five.
He is hoping to continue his purple patch with the highly-rated Werenearlyoutofit in the final race of the Showcase meeting, the Have Your Christmas Parties Here Standard Open National Hunt Flat race (5.30pm).
"We think he's really smart and I'm looking forward to running him," said McPherson.
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"He finished second in his Irish maiden point-to-point and then he came here and finished third in a bumper around Bangor.
"I got the tactics all wrong that day, because I said to hold him up and come late, but he just didn't get to the leaders and was beaten by about five lengths.
"Then we ran him at Warwick just before Christmas last year and he made all and never saw another horse and won very well.
"The plan was to run him once more in the spring but he picked up a bug and by the time he'd got over it we decided to give him a proper summer break – he's only five.
"The plan at the moment is for him to have a run in the bumper at the weekend and see how he goes, and then we'll either go novice hurdling with him or we might stick to another bumper.
"He's grown up and he's relaxed. We've started to school him over hurdles and he does it very easily."
McPherson said he had been pleased with how well the jumps season had gone so far for his team at Martins Hill.
He is already nearly halfway towards the best season of his career so far, when he saddled 11 winners in the 2011/12 campaign.
Harry Hunt could head for a chase at Stratford on October 25 after winning a jump jockeys' race on the Flat under Wayne Hutchinson on Sunday.
McPherson was delighted to see Clarion Call get his head in front under Killian More at Exeter after a couple of near misses.
"He was with Evan Williams before he came to us and in the first half of last year he was always knocking on the door with plenty of seconds and thirds, and then he just lost his way a little bit," he said.
"He came here six months ago and we gave him a spin on the Flat at Haydock and he finished second, then back over hurdles last week he was second at Chepstow.
"We were expecting him to run well at Exeter the other day.
"He's got plenty of ability but he doesn't always put it all in. Quite often he travels really well in his races.
"He's perfectly capable of getting his head in front – it's just keeping it there.
"That's why we run him as we do, and the instructions to Killian were to leave it as late as he dared.
"He got there very easily, but the moment he hits the front the horse thinks he's won and pulls himself up.
"A short run-in is perfect for him because it means he doesn't have too much time to think about things."