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Faulkner hoping for change of luck in Grand National

  • Fri, 10 Aug 2018
  • NZ Racing Desk
A final fence denied Notabadrooster in the Koral Steeplechase, but trainer Chris Faulkner is hoping forn a change of luck in tomorrow's Grand National Steeplechase.

A final fence denied Notabadrooster in the Koral Steeplechase, but trainer Chris Faulkner is hoping forn a change of luck in tomorrow's Grand National Steeplechase.

Chris Faulkner experienced the thrill of winning a major race 31 years ago, but this time he hopes it will happen when he is on course.

Faulkner is the trainer and part-owner of Notabadrooster, who looked set to win last Saturday’s Koral Steeplechase at Riccarton when clear in front for rider Will Gordon going into the last fence, but fell on landing, leaving Amanood Lad to go on and win.

Notabadrooster will be looking for a change of fortune in tomorrow’s Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge Grand National Steeplechase and such a win would certainly be a long-time overdue for his trainer.

Faulkner is a drainage contractor, but has had a lengthy link with racing, back to the days when he rode briefly over jumps and then when training in partnership with Cliff Fenwick at Takanini during the 1980s.

“I was in partnership with Cliff when Lord Reims won the Caulfield Cup, but I wasn’t on course that day,” Faulkner said. “In those times partnerships weren’t recognised in Australia and Cliff was over there with Lord Reims and I went down to Trentham for the Wellesley Stakes with Beau Bayou.”

Beau Bayou finished third in that 1987 Listed two-year-old race, while there was plenty to celebrate over Lord Reims’ Caulfield Cup victory at the expense of the Bart Cummings-trained Beau Zam.

Faulkner’s partnership with Fenwick also included Lord Reims’ three successive Adelaide Cups (3200m) and later his wife, Yvonne, became Fenwick’s training partner.

Notabadrooster, a gelding by Thano, began his career with Craig Phelan and won three races on the flat, but underwent an operation last year for the removal of a bone chip and since then he has remained with Faulkner.

“He’s better suited working on the beach rather than the track and he’s not the nicest horse to handle,” Faulkner said. “He was always going to be a ’chaser and Shaun (Phelan), Emily (Farr) and Will (Gordon) did all the work on him.”

It was a big call from Faulkner to target the Koral and Grand National Steeplechases on the strength of just two steeplechase starts, but Notabadrooster proved his worth last Saturday, despite the last-fence mishap.

It hasn’t been easy for Faulkner getting over such a near-victory in the Koral.

“It’s taken me a week to get over it. Everyone keeps coming up and reminding me how unlucky we were,” Faulkner said.

“But the horse is well and that’s the main thing. In fact he has worked better this week than he did the week before.”

Notabadrooster has undergone veterinary checks this week and has been declared fit to take his place, with Gordon the wiser and ready to atone in the Grand National.

“Will gave him three (slaps with the whip) after the second-last and he just took off and caught the last one wrong,” Faulkner said.

“He was still full of running so I’m not worried about him getting the extra distance.”