Lee rolls back the years with rejuvenated band of veterans

 

Having long secured the fidelity of regulars at tracks like Ludlow and Hereford, Richard Lee is on a roll that warrants rather broader attention. After two more winners at Chepstow last Saturday, the indefatigable Marked Man attempts to maintain his trainer's momentum when contesting his 67th steeplechase at Leicester today, three weeks short of his 16th birthday.

Another veteran, Victory Gunner, has already testified to the competitive longevity of horses in Lee's care by winning three of his first four starts since entering the stable at the age of 13. "But these old horses are so easy to train," Lee said yesterday. "They nearly train themselves. You just learn their foibles and quirks, and pander to them."

Marked Man registered the first of 11 career wins at Aintree back in 2002, shortly after arriving from Ireland. "He's a born racehorse," Lee said. "I'm sure he'll tell us he has had enough, some day, but it won't be any time soon judging from the form he's in."

Necessarily, however, it is at the other end of the spectrum that he discovers optimism for the future. "The horses have been running well, but the fact is we've got some very nice ones," he said, nominating Hector's Choice and Young Victoria as prospects worth following.

Another, Russe Blanc, has unusual antecedents – by an obscure French stallion, and one of those rare thoroughbreds registered as white, he cost just £8,000 at Doncaster before winning a bumper on his debut. "I'd just arrived at the sales," Lee remembered, "and was walking past the parade ring when I stopped and thought: 'What a lovely horse.' The dam's pedigree is quite good. Even if he didn't make a racehorse, I thought he might have some appeal on the event market. He ran very well in his first hurdle, and he'll go to Hereford on Sunday."

His Chepstow winners included another novice in Knock A Hand. "A proper horse," Lee said, "a great, big scopey animal. He'd won point-to-points in Ireland, so we knew he'd stay, but he's by Lend A Hand and I suppose that's where he gets his speed. I expect we'll look for something around Christmas."

His other winner was an old favourite in Le Beau Bai, in the doldrums since finishing third in the 2009 Coral Welsh National – a target once again, if only enough horses drop out for him to make the cut. "It was a particular pleasure to see the little horse bounce back [to win at Chepstow on Saturday]," Lee said. "One word is all it takes to explain: ground. The last time he had heavy going was two years ago, when he won the same race. He does like Chepstow, but then it's a real stayers' track – and he's a proper stayer."

Turf account

Chris McGrath's nap

Forestside (2.50 Hexham) Yard among the winners at Sedgefield yesterday and this one looks primed to retrieve the form he showed when scoring twice over course and distance in the summer.

Next best

Spice Bar (2.30 Leicester) Good strike rate since joining Declan Carroll and looked better than this rating at Musselburgh, clear when unseating three out, and better again back over this distance.

One to watch

Skippers Brig (Nicky Richards) gave a progressive rival a start when making his comeback at Kelso on Sunday and did well to mount a challenge before just flattening out on the run-in.

Where the money's going

With his novice chasing campaign suspended for a return to timber at Cheltenham on Saturday, Menorah is 12-1 from 25-1 for the Champion Hurdle with Paddy Power.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure Architect

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Infrastructure Architect is ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Coordinator

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Production Coordinator is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opening has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn