In April 2015 the Club acquired, for £60,000, Westend Story, a four year old gelding from Colin Bowe, a leading point to point trainer in Ireland.
Westend Story is by Westerner and out of a Saddlers’ Hall mare, Sarahall. Westerner was a top class stayer on the flat and runner up in the 2005 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He has been a successful sire of jumpers, most recently with Cole Harden, winner of the 2015 World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and Champagne West, who won the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park in January 2017.
In his debut point to point in Ireland, Westend Story was very impressive only to fall at the last, when he would certainly have been placed. In his second point, he was brought down early in the race. However, these performances impressed Shane Donohoe sufficiently for him to draw Westend Story to the attention of Mick Fitzgerald and the Club.
In the 2015/16 NH season, the Club ran Westend Story three times in bumpers. He won at Huntindon on Boxing Day 2015 by six lengths and followed up with an 18 length victory under a penalty at Exeter seven weeks later. He then went to Cheltenham for the Champion Bumper, where, despite a rough passage, during which, three furlongs from home, he got pushed to the rear of the 23 runner field, he stayed on impressively and finished fast to be fifth in this prestigious race.
In the 2016/17 NH season, Westend Story made his hurdles debut. He ran in three maiden hurdles and it would be fair to say that he disappointed. Although he finished third at Warwick in December and second at Wetherby in January and beat all the ordinary horses easily, in neither case did he give the winner a race. At Ludlow in February he was brought down at the second flight and we then decided to call it a day and try again after a long break.
Mick feels that Westend Story was never quite right last season. He had had an operation to remove a fetlock chip in the spring and maybe that took more out of him than had been assumed.
He is in excellent condition now and the Hobbs team are very pleased with his work. His hurdle mark is only 124 and, assuming his ability is anywhere near his bumper form, this should give him a good chance in a valuable handicap hurdle before he goes chasing.