Conditional jockey Tristan Durrell insists it would be a fitting result if he could strengthen his relationship in the saddle with Sacre Coeur by steering her to glory in the Pertemps Network Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon on Thursday (January 25th).
The Dan Skelton-trained mare will bid to give the 22-year-old jockey the first Listed race success of his career when taking on eight rivals in the two and a half miles feature at the Cambridgeshire circuit.
In four previous starts together, the pair have tasted victory on two occasions with the latest of those triumphs coming over two miles in handicap company at Ludlow last time out on December 20th.
And with Sacre Coeur, who finished third on her most recent start at Listed level behind Zambella in the Boylesports Houghton Mares’ Chase, which was switched from the Warwick card that fell victim to the weather to Aintree, the five-pound claimer expects another bold show from his equine ally.
Durrell said: “This is a step back in trip and grade for her, but she was really good at Ludlow last time out. She always runs her race and she has had a bit of a freshen up since the last day.
“I won on her over an extended two miles five (furlongs) earlier in the season at Fontwell and that is a stiff enough finish there up that hill so going back up in trip should be no problem at all.
“I thought she ran a good race at Aintree as she was keener than usual, but she kept going on ground that was really testing.
“The lad who rides her out at Dan’s every day does a great job with her in keeping her settled.
“I think when you have ridden a horse a few times on the track it does mean that bit more when you win on them and we will be doing our best to go for it here.”
Although it took Sacre Coeur’s current connections a bit of time to work out how to get the best out of her on the track Durrell hope she still has more to offer now they have found out the way in which to ride her.
He added: “She was tricky when she first came and it took a while to get our heads around her. We decided to let her pop out and make the running and that has been the making of her.
“She loves to bowl away in front as she is quite keen going and you end up being a passenger on her for the first circuit.
“She does have her own way of going but she jumps really well.”
It has already been a memorable 2024 for Durrell having teamed up with the Shelfield Green handler to secure the first double of his career at Kempton Park earlier this month, highlighted by the victory of Jay Jay Reilly in the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle.
And he hopes those victories are a sign of things to come for the remainder of the year.
He added: “Things are going well, and it was nice to have the double at Kempton (Park). It has been nice to have the support from Dan and the team.
“I’m lucky that I get to ride some nice horses at Dan’s. I just want to have as much success as I can along with a few quality winners like I did the other day and I will be trying me best to do it.”