Al Skywalker to Represent U.S. at Cheltenham
Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2002 9:11 AM
Edited from National Steeplechase Association notes
Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2002 9:11 AM
Owner/trainer Jennifer Majette will send American grade I stakes winner Al
Skywalker to England's famed Cheltenham Racecourse for the £75,000 Victor
Chandler Bula Hurdle, to be run Dec. 14. The trip was made possible in part
through a travel incentive offered by Cheltenham to an American steeplechase
Al Skywalker, a 9-year-old California-bred son of Skywalker, won two stakes
this year and placed fifth on the 2002 earnings list with $110,895. The
victories came in the National Hunt Cup (NSA-III) at Radnor, Pa. in May and
the grade III Appleton Stakes at Far Hills, N.J. in October. Second in two
grade I races this year, Al Skywalker brings nine career wins and $303,000
in steeplechase earings to the race.
Majette, based in Southern Pines, N.C., called the trip "a little kid's
dream," and planned to accompany her horse on a flight from Toronto to
England later this week. Al Skywalker will arrive at Cheltenham on Saturday,
Majette also announced a new partnership with noted Thoroughbred owner
Michael Watt. A native of New Zealand, Watt lives in England and campaigns
horses all over the world. In 2002, he won the Irish St. Leger with Vinnie
Roe, the New Zealand Grand National with Eric The Bee and America's New York
Turf Writers Cup (NSA-I) with Zabenz.
"Al Skywalker will race in Mr. Watt's colors at Cheltenham, and if the horse
does well he will stay in England at least for a while," said Majette, whose
stable includes just the lone steeplechaser.
As for the Bula, a 2 1/8-mile race over English hurdles, Majette is
"He's in good form. The only thing I'm worried about is the plane ride," she
said. "He gets nervous and is a funny kind of horse, that's why I'm going to
fly with him. He always tries, and runs as well as he can on the day. That
gives me confidence."
Regular jockey Tom Foley will be aboard Al Skywalker, who was bred by
Evergreen Thoroughbreds and trained on the flat with Jenine Sahadi before
converting to steeplechase races in 1997. The horse started for an $8,000
claiming price in his first hurdle start.
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