Grand stayer returns at The Valley races

Shane Jackson is unsure what to expect with Grand Promenade this Saturday but the Warrnambool horseman is just happy to be heading to the races with the gelding.

The eight-year-old will resume his racing career in the $130,000 Ladbroke It BM100 Handicap over 2040 metres at The Valley.

The son of Champs Elysees was once one of Australia’s most promising stayers, when in the care of original trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, who prepared him to finish sixth in the 2021 Melbourne Cup, but he hasn’t raced since finishing down the track in this year’s Adelaide Cup.

That was thought to be the end of his career, but a conversation with Jackson prompted managing owner Gerry Ryan to test him as a jumper.

“Gerry asked me if I thought he’d be a good one for the job and I thought he’d fit the bill perfectly,” Jackson said.

“As I said to him, it might just spark him up a bit on the flat. Horses like him, they’re more happy in work than they are in retirement, so he was a lovely one to get.

“I’m not under any illusions that I’m going to be improve one from Ciaron Maher, but if we could just get him going somewhat as well as what he used to go he might make a beautiful hurdler for next year.

“I’ve been jumping him quite a bit and he loves it.”

Although eight, Grand Promenade has had just 28 starts with a win in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) the best of his eight wins.

He had his first jumpout for Jackson at Camperdown in late October, finishing sixth of seven over 850m, before a second placing and a win in 1400m hitouts at Camperdown and Penshurst during November.

Grand Promenade will carry 60kg on Saturday, 1kg less than this year’s Group 1 South Australian Derby winner and short-priced favourite Dunkel, but the success of Saturday’s operation will not be measured by victory.

“He’s been off the scene for a while, so he has to get the blood up and get the competitiveness going, so it’d just be nice to see him hitting the line and wanting to be there really,” Jackson said.

“If he goes really well, you’d pick out some nice flat races, but if he’s a bit below-par we’ll just count down our time to the hurdle trials and get him qualified for the early season.”

Harry Coffey will take the ride aboard Grand Promenade with the pair to jump from barrier four in the field of seven.

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