SAN REMO has an opportunity to go down in jumping history if he can follow his win in the Grand National Hurdle with a victory in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on Sunday.
In the past 92 years only one jumper has completed the double and that was Kiwi Tallyho Twinkletoe in 2019 and he was the first to do so since the legendary Mosstrooper in 1930.
There’s one feat which is unlikely to be matched in the future as if San Remo was to win, it would mean he won the first race of the 2023 jumps season and the last one.
San Remo took out the Benchmark 120 hurdle at Terang on March 17 which kicked off the season.
Amazingly the three horses which were immediately behind him in that race, the Eric Musgrove trained second and third placegetters El Diez and Dr Dependable and the fourth placegetter the Richard Cully trained Sky Hero will all be in action at Ballarat on Sunday afternoon.
Stawell trainer Dane Smith is in awe of San Remo and his staying abilities and that’s where he feels he could have an advantage over the dashing Stern Idol and Bell Ex One.
“I know my horse will run the trip out. Is there a question mark against a couple of the others? With my horse it’s the further he goes the better he gets,” Smith said.
Smith said he had planned all year for San Remo’s to tackle the Grand National Hurdle and then the Grand National Steeplechase.
Although San Remo started at $18 in the Grand National Hurdle, Smith was confident the son of Frankel would go close.
“I thought he was a winning chance as we had set him for it. The run in the Australian Hurdle put the writing on the wall and he loves Sandown and he loved the track being a bit drier,” Smith said.
Smith was referring to San Remo’s second in the Australian Hurdle to Circle The Sun.
Smith said San Remo’s jockey Aaron Kuru was also very bullish which surprised him a little bit.
San Remo’s whole preparation this year has consisted of seven hurdle starts but Smith said he was ready to return to the fences.
Although San Remo hasn’t won in seven starts over the fences, Smith is confident he will run well.
“He’s schooled up well over the steeples. I know his hurdle form is probably better but he’s had a better year this year and that’s why his form has been better over the hurdles because that’s what he’s been running over,” Smith said.
“I’m one hundred percent happy with him.”
In 2021 San Remo finished fifth in the Grand National Steeple behind Inayforhay but Smith said he wasn’t suited by the heavy track.
“He also wasn’t racing as well as he is now. He’s going to really enjoy the firmer surface which is one of the reasons why he won the Grand National Hurdle.”
Smith said San Remo’s win was the highlight of his training career and he thanked his owners for staying with him.
Smith said after San Remo fell in the 2022 Grand Annual Steeplechase and then failed at his next start over the fences there was talk of retiring him.
Smith convinced his owners that he could rebuild San Remo’s confidence and his form this season has vindicated the decision to go on.
“I appreciate the opportunity to train for them and their faith in me. I convinced them to go through with another season as some were doubtful after he fell in the Grand Annual.”
Smith said San Remo was purchased for $42,000 from an Inglis Online sale as a potential jumper.
Smith has had success with Mujadale and Something to Share as jumpers in the past. He said he had a couple of younger jumpers in his stable for next season.
Smith said he was also thrilled to team up with Aaron Kuru riding San Remo and he has now won three races on him from five rides.
“Aaron Kuru is a gun. I think he’s really put in this year and it’s shown with his results,” he said.
Kuru, who was named the Tommy Corrigan Medal winner at the Racing Victoria Awards, has ridden 15 winners for the season.
He has a three winner gap over Will Gordon on 12 winners in the Victorian Jumps Jockey's Premiership.
Kuru is also riding in his homeland of New Zealand on Saturday at Te Rapa. The last time he returned home he rode four winners in June.
Symon Wilde has trained 12 winners for the season and takes a three win lead over Ciaron Maher and David Eustace as he aims to make it back to back wins in the Jumps Trainer's premierships.