The ground will dictate the next steps for Rebecca Menzies’ Listed winner Fonzerelli as a chasing career beckons next season.
The six-year-old took the Virgin Bet Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday, starting as an 18-1 chance for the three-mile contest under Nathan Moscrop and making light work of the soft ground and step up in trip to cross the line half a length ahead of Dan Skelton’s Get A Tonic.
Prior to that the bay was triumphant in the Think Smart At Vertem EBF Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Newcastle, a success that earnt her a place in the Grade Two series final at Newbury on April 2.
That contest could be her next port of call, but soft ground will be essential to her participation and there is a possibility she could head to the Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr instead.
“She’s come out of the race really well, she went up to a mark of 130 so that might just limit where we can go,” said Menzies.
“She’s qualified for the mares’ novice hurdle final at Newbury at the start of April and if the ground was testing she could go there.
“The other option is possibly the mares’ race at the Scottish Grand National Festival up at Ayr, but obviously she’s going to be quite ground dependent.”
Should the ground be good during the latter stages of the season it is possible that the mare will be saved until next term, with a step up to the bigger obstacles the ultimate aim for the daughter of staying sire Schiaparelli.
“She needs plenty of cut in the ground as you saw on Saturday, the main aim for her is chasing,” Menzies said.
“The owners have bought her as a staying chaser and she’ll be minded for next year, if the ground were to dry up we’d probably just put her away and look forward to next year with her.
“We’ve already schooled over fences and obviously being the winner of a point to point she is a very good jumper.
“She’s a very good jumper of a hurdlem but she’s an exceptional jumper of a fence – it brings the best out of her so that’s definitely the aim for next season. She looks like she’ll be very exciting.”
Menzies was unsuccessful in buying Fonzerelli when she went through the ring at Tattersalls in 2020 and was ultimately purchased by bloodstock agent Tom Malone, but the County Durham-based trainer liked her so much that she immediately bought her when hearing that she was to change hands privately.
“We loved her at the sales and we were the underbidder at the Cheltenham sale when it was at Newmarket,” she explained.
“Tom Malone bought her for Straightline Bloodstock and when I found out they were selling her privately I was very, very quick to snap her up. It’s almost like fate how it all worked out.
“She’s 17 hands, she’s just got a lovely frame. I can’t knock her at all, there’s nothing I dislike about her. She’s got a great attitude, great wind, she’s a beautiful mover and she’s got a really good nature as well.
“She’s got a lovely attitude to her work, you could see how laid back in her races she is from Saturday.
“She just does what she needs to do, she doesn’t over-race. She’s just the real deal, the whole package.”