No hiding Quinn's desire to see duo peak and Triumph
JOHN Quinn hopes two of his young guns can follow in the hoof-prints of Countrywide Flame by winning tomorrow's JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Settrington-based handler will be well known to regular racegoers at Beverley, where he has an outstanding record with his flat horses.
But Quinn is equally adept within the National Hunt sphere, in which he claimed one of the biggest victories of his career when Countrywide Flame struck by three lengths in the final day's curtain-raiser 12 months ago.
Now, Hidden Justice and Kashmir Peak have been given the chance to provide the North Yorkshire trainer with a remarkable double.
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"It is nice that despite having only 18 jumpers, we have a decent number that are good enough to warrant Cheltenham Festival entries," said Quinn.
"It's heartbreaking when you read that day in, day out horses are being ruled out for the remainder of the season due to injury or, even worse, after suffering fatalities.
"Getting the horses there was the first priority, but they are both physically in tip-top form. We can't wait to get started now."
Quinn's confidence could not be any higher heading into the final day of the Festival.
Countrywide Flame continued his love-in with Cheltenham on Tuesday when he outran odds of 16-1 to finish third in what was a white-hot renewal of the Champion Hurdle.
"He's as tough as boots and doesn't know when he's beaten," said Quinn.
"That was a really strong Champion Hurdle so he did brilliantly to finish third. If he's okay he could go for the two-and-a-half-mile race at Aintree (Aintree Hurdle) and if he's okay after that I'll think about the Chester Cup."
For now, though, thoughts turn to Kashmir Peak and Hidden Justice, and their realistic claims of Triumph Hurdle glory.
The former had looked the real deal in two victorious starts over hurdles earlier in the winter, but rather blotted his copybook when he unseated Dougie Costello at Musselburgh in February.
"Kashmir Peak's visit to Scotland to contest the Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial was rather disappointing as he lost his footing when landing at the fourth hurdle from home. It was neither horse nor rider's fault, and is just one of those things that happens in jump racing," said Quinn.
"Thankfully, he has come out of his race without a scratch on him."
Hidden Justice, meanwhile, has made a similarly big impression since his attentions were switched to hurdles.
The former Amanda Perrett inmate was a runaway winner on his jumps debut at Wetherby in December, after which he struck in no uncertain terms at Catterick.
"He's a very straightforward horse and we've done plenty of schooling with him," said Quinn.
"His work is very good and we are happy enough to go straight to Cheltenham. If there's nice ground, we would expect him to run a big race."
Yorkshire interest is also spiked later on the card in the feature race, the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Malcolm Jefferson trains a little farther north from Quinn, and can barely conceal his excitement as Cape Tribulation gets the chance to shine.
The nine-year-old gelding won the Pertemps Final at last season's Festival, but has taken his game to a new level this term.Victories in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby and the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January have made him a lively outsider capable of upsetting the likes of ante-post favourite Bobs Worth and the 2011 Gold Cup winner Long Run.
"He's handicapped that he has to go in these sort of races, I know it's a tough shot, but if he runs well in it there's good place money," said Jefferson.
"If you look at both his hurdle races, the way he stays on, he can find more. Denis O'Regan (jockey) thought three and a quarter miles would be better than the straight three miles, so we have taken him out of the World Hurdle."