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Stable tour: Len Lungo: I am delighted with the team we have this season.

Byline: Interview by TOM O'RYAN

THINK of northern jump racing, and Scotland in particular, and popular trainer Len Lungo springs instantly to mind. From his spectacular base at Hetland Hill in Dumfriesshire, which lacks nothing in impressive facilities, the deep-thinking handler has a reputation of placing his tartan army with careful precision, which makes him a constant force to be reckoned with north of the border.

Many of Lungo's horses are purchased as hand-picked youngsters as stores and given time to develop before they ever see a racecourse, and the trainer prides himself on his ability to secure potential winners when, as he frankly and rather frustratedly, admits: "We haven't got the budget to buy anything like the top lots."

The firepower in the yard this season looks well up to previous years and in Rasharrow, who showed his mettle last March by finishing third in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival on only his second outing, Lungo feels he has a horse who could go right to the top of the tree over hurdles.

Others, such as Armaguedon, Laouen, Wild Cane Ridge and Villon, are set to go over fences, giving the trainer every reason to be optimistic about the months ahead.

"I would have to say that I am delighted with the team we've assembled for this season," says Lungo. Given his track record as a man who gets results, followers of the stable should also be delighted.

Armaguedon 7g Garde Royale 1130/21-He missed last season after we found a wee bit of heat in a leg and, because he's such a good horse, we were fairly cautious and gave him plenty of time. He seems fine again now and I'm optimistic that he'll make a good 2m chaser. But he's had limited experience - only two races over hurdles - and he's a keen horse, so I may give him one or two runs over hurdles before he goes over fences. He was a very good bumper horse and we've always thought a lot of him.

Baffling Secret 5g Kizitca 6302-He was unlucky not to win a bumper last season, but the experience he gained in those races will stand him in good stead in novice hurdles, which is where he's going this time. He's stronger now - I bought him in France as a yearling - and I think he'll win hurdle races all right.

Brandy Wine 7g Roselier 60/501-2 A lovely horse from the family of Seven Towers, he has always been very backward and has needed time, but he's very clean-winded and his legs are great. He won a weak race over hurdles at Ayr last season, but chasing was always going to be his game and he jumped well over fences when second at Kelso at the beginning of this season. Long-distance races on soft ground are what he wants, and I could see him develop into a four-miler.

Brooklyn Breeze 8g Be My Native 500341-He has had another bit of surgery on his wind to try to stop him gurgling, which was finding him out last season, especially on stiffer tracks and specifically at the Cheltenham Festival, where he struggled up the final hill. He was happier on a flatter track like Ayr, where he won at the Scottish National meeting. If his latest operation has worked, he could maybe cope with stiffer tracks, but if not, we'll stick to easier courses. He's a decent horse and a great jumper.

Chef de Cour 4g Pistolet Bleu 1643-11 A very cheap purchase in France, mainly because he doesn't have the best confirmation and is a small, light-framed horse. But he's got an engine and won his bumper first time out last season, and also ran a decent race at Cheltenham. He managed to win a couple of little hurdles at the start of this season, so he's given us a lot of fun already. He's tough and honest and will go for novice handicaps.

Corrib Lad 7g Supreme Leader 0/55133-A massive horse, who won last season at Carlisle, where the stiffness of the course and the soft ground helped him. We would like to go novice chasing with him this season and, given his size and stride, fences should suit him. He'll want 2m4f and could eventually stay 3m.

Freetown 9g Shirley Heights P40/51F-What can I say about him? Last season, after jumping stickily early on in a chase at Wetherby and looking as though he was going to pull himself up passing the stands, he came back to win under a tremendous ride from Tony Dobbin. He then had a heavy fall in soft ground at Kelso, but he's had a nice long break, seems fine and we'll switch him between hurdles and fences again. He's still a nice horse.

Full Irish 9g Rashar 1/0641-0 He's been a grand servant and has won us a lot of races. Last season he took time to come right, but then won a nice race at the Scottish National meeting at Ayr. He's rated 140 over fences but a fair bit lower over hurdles, so we'll mix the two and see what we can do with him.

Huka Lodge 8g Roselier 1F2351-He's an out-and-out stayer - he's not a horse with any gears - and he needs soft ground. We'll continue to switch him between hurdles and fences and he'll win when conditions are right for him, with the emphasis on stamina.

Laouen 7g Funny Baby 1111-01/ He missed all last season, but he's looking well now and his legs are good. He's a good horse, as he proved in bumpers and over hurdles, and the plan is to try him over fences. He's a very athletic horse, like a rubber ball, and he's got a turn of foot. He'll be effective over a stiff 2m and may get 2m4f, because he's a horse who likes to be held up. It's nice to have him back.

Le Biassais 6g Passing Sale 222122-He's going novice chasing this time. He finished second three times last season before winning over hurdles. He's big and lean but a tough horse, who doesn't worry about things. His trip is probably 2m4f and he wants soft ground.

Malt de Vergy 5g Sleeping Car 61-1 A small, compact horse who is very tough and honest.

He's won a couple of bumpers, including a pretty decent one at Kelso in May. He's jumped hurdles, schools well and could be a nice horse in novice events.

Monolith 7g Bigstone 3032-05 He's fine again after knocking a joint last season. He's a grand, straightforward horse, a popular character in the yard, and he'll run over hurdles from 2m4f to 3m, preferably on soft ground.

Mr Tim 7g Naheez 04/653-0 Has had a lot of wind problems and had two operations on his soft palate before last season. Even then, he was still choking when he came off the bridle, so there's no point hitting him. We got into trouble with the stewards with him last season. I explained the horse's problems, but if they don't believe you, what can you do? I'd just love one of the stewards or stipes to ride him in a race and hear what sort of noises he makes when he's gasping for air. I subsequently had him ridden at Perth like it seemed they wanted him ridden, on the pace and given a few belts with thewhip, but - no surprise to me - he ran worse. He's since had another operation on his wind and we'll persevere with him this season, because he's quite a nice horse, but there's no guarantee he won't choke again.

My Best Secret 6g Secret Appeal 3-He ran well in a bumper at Musselburgh last season, showing plenty of speed but barely getting home. Two miles on a sharp track is what he'll want, but he's stronger than he was and he shouldn't have any problem staying 2m over hurdles.

Paddy The Piper 8g Witness Box 1/U123-6 Having done so well in bumpers and over hurdles, it was a bit frustrating that he started to jump more and more to his right over fences last season. We discovered that a small joint in his hock was giving him a bit of pain; the cure for that was to keep him going steadily until it fused, which it has now done. There should now be no reason why he should jump right-handed, unless, of course, it's a habit he's adopted. He's a good horse.

Rasharrow 6g Rashar 131-I'd say he may be the best horse we've ever had. After bringing him along very patiently, he won on his debut at Wetherby last season and then, because he's a lean type, we decided to put him away for the Cheltenham bumper. I didn't want to give him a couple more races beforehand in case he might get a bit tucked-up and be 'gone' by the time Cheltenham came round. He ran a blinder to finish third in what I felt was a very good race, and although he wasn't unlucky, the way the race was run he had to come from a fair way back around the outside, which meant, for a green horse, he was nearest the huge crowd, which can be a bit off-putting. Anyway, he then went to Ayr on Scottish Grand National day and won the bumper there, doing cartwheels. He's been very brave schooling over hurdles and the plan is to give him one or two races in the north and then take him to the bigger meetings to get further experience, in the hope that we get to Cheltenham in March for either the Supreme Novices' or the Royal & SunAlliance - at this stage, I wouldn't

know which would suit him best. He's a very exciting prospect.

Reap The Reward 5g Presenting 3-This is a nice horse, who I bought at the Derby Sale before giving him time to develop. About three-quarters of the way through last season, I recommended him to Ray and Anita Green and I ended up giving him a run at P erth, which wouldn't have been his ideal track, but he finished third and learned plenty. I might run him in another bumper, but he'scrying out for 2m4f over hurdles. I think he's a really nice horse in the making.

Rehearsal 4g Singspiel 0214-

This horse did well over hurdles last season, but took a while to learn to settle and barely stayed two miles. But I've run him over 12f on the Flat this season - he ran a cracking race to finish third at Royal Ascot at York - so I'm hoping he'll get the trip better over hurdles this winter. He's an honest, willing horse and should be able to pay his way again for Elite Racing.

Roc Tredudon 5g Double Bed unraced

I bought him in France as a three-year-old at the breeze-ups. We've been patient with him, and he's starting to grow into his frame now and is a nice prospect. He has quite a round action and he'll want a stiff track and a bit of give in the ground. We'll probably start him off in a bumper before he goes hurdling.

Terramarique 6g Namaqualand 06064-0 He's a half-brother to Hallyards Gael, who was a better horse over fencesthan over hurdles, and I'm hoping this fellow is the same. He's very strong behind and, although he'll start off over hurdles, he could go over fences after Christmas.

The Bajan Bandit 10g Commanche Run P1P/001

He's been a good horse for us but he never really took to chasing; he tended to jump fences too high and too carefully. It was great to see him winning again over hurdles last season - he's a horse with a lot of stamina and a good set of lungs, and is still a force to be reckoned with in long-distance hurdles. He owes nobody anything.

The Weaver 6g Villez 0502U-P He is a narrow horse, a peculiar shape, and the saddle slipped on him last season when he would either have won or finished second at Musselburgh. I hope he can make his mark in handicap hurdles, though he wouldn't want the ground too testing.

Thoutmosis 6g Woodman 6/11F4-1 He is a 'bridle' horse; a horse who travels well but whodoesn't find a lot off it. He has won three over hurdles and has done well for a horse who I originally bought cheaply as an entire. We'll see how we go with him, but if he's too highly handicapped over hurdles we may send him over fences.

Troll 4g Cadoudal 14-A horse I like, and he might just be a good one. He's a half-brother to Armaguedon, and won a bumper at Wetherby last season and

ran well under a penalty at Newcastle. Because he's quite tall and was a bit weak, we decided that was enough for him and put him away. He jumps well and I think he'll be a nice novice hurdler, a useful prospect.

Villon 6g Topanoora 1/1110-

He is another who fits into the 'good horse' category, and the plan is to go novice chasing with him this season. He may have one run over hurdles, but I don't

want to mess around too long before he goes over fences. He did well last season, winning a bumper at Haydock despite pulling far too hard and using up too much energy early on, and then winning over hurdles - and settling better - at Hexham and Ayr. The target was the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, but the ground there was for Group-race Flat horses, not jumpers, and was much too quick for him. We won't run him on ground like that again. I think he's more mature this time and I'm looking forward to him.

Waltzing Along 7g Presenting 4/000/32-He was placed in a couple of novice chases last season and was a bit unfortunate not to win at Kelso, because he was only outpointed on the run-in. He had a little problem with a hock, but that is behind him now and he should be up to winning a novice handicap chase on good ground.

Wild Cane Ridge 6g Roselier 1/21141-A decent bumper horse, he won three novice hurdles last season and wasn't disgraced by any means for a 3m Roselier horse when he finished fourth in a Grade 2 race at Haydock in February; what I was gobsmacked about that day was that he was made favourite to beat horses like Mephisto and Moulin Riche! He's an out-and-out stayer who likes soft ground. The plan is to go chasing with him this season and he could do well.

Word Gets Around 7g King's Ride 10PP0-5 He had a bit of mucus hanging around him last year and never really blossomed. He looks well after a summer out and I'm just hoping he can recapture his form of the previous season. Two miles and probably nearer 2m4f suits him best, and he doesn't want the ground too testing or too sticky.

You Do The Math 5g Carroll House 23-03 A short-coupled horse, who is not over-scopey but who has shown he can gallop by being placed in bumpers and over hurdles. I think I can win a little novice hurdle or two with him; it will just be a question of picking the right races.

Reporter's Choice

Class horse Rasharrow Looks to have all the right credentials to make a big name for himself over hurdles Dark horse Reap The Reward Admired by the trainer and a once-raced horse for whom the future is bright Surefire winner Troll A half-brother to Armaguedon who promises to prove a force in novice hurdles Order of Merit campaigner Rasharrow

CAPTION(S):

Lungo poses with stable star Rasharrow, potentially the best horse the trainer has ever had and one expected to have a very successful season over hurdles
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Article Type:Interview
Date:Oct 13, 2005
Words:2660
Previous Article:Sanderson looking to a single racing channel.
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