Turner dreaming of more sporting glory

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Scoring a Carling Cup Final goal at Wembley and owning a Cheltenham Festival runner all within the space of a decadent 17-day period is quite simply the stuff of dreams.

So were Colebrooke to win the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next Wednesday, launched from his base at Fences Farm, Tyringham on the county border with Buckinghamshire, it would appear to smack of dramatic ‘overkill’.

Yet that is the dream for Cardiff City defender Ben Turner and his footballing co-owners Jay Tabb and James McPake as the Renee Robeson-trained hurdler takes his chance in the 2m 1/2f contest at Prestbury Park.

The strapping four-year-old gelding is likely to be sent off at prohibitive odds yet has earned his chance to run off 10st 7lbs after victories this season at Fontwell, where his winning distance was 41 lengths, and Sandown Park.

With eight runs under his belt since last August, he has proved his durability.

It has been three-and-a-half years years since Turner and Tabb first contacted racing club and syndicate organiser Nick Brown and tied their colours to the mast of the local operation, after scouring the internet from a hotel room while playing for Coventry City.

The initial fruits of those endeavours last season saw Bobby Gee, successful with back-to-back wins at Lingfield and Towcester before being retired after sustaining an injury in the 3m 5f chase at Warwick won by West End Rocker, in January last year.

Turner said: “Along with my father I have always followed National Hunt racing and after we dipped our toe in the water with Bobby Gee along with Jay Tabb who is now at Reading, we decided it would be great to design our own colours and own a horse outright.

“That is when James McPake decided he wanted a piece of the action.

“Nick contacted us and told us he had found a horse which was suited to our budget which had come off the Flat with Mark Johnston which is how we arrived with Colebrooke.”

The trio formed TMT Grand and now the same sort of fortune which meant the fact Turner’s second Cardiff goal (he moved from Coventry for £750,000 last August and netted his first at home to Middlesbrough) arrived on Wembley’s grand stage, has followed him onto the racecourse this season as he explained: “I have managed to go racing four times when Colebrooke has run for us while Jay has only been once.

“It has been difficult for James after he went on loan to Hibernian from Coventry for six months in January.”

So fortune smiles, and with Turner currently due to play for Cardiff at home to Hull City next Tuesday, the short journey across to Cheltenham the following day should be a straight forward process.

What then follows is more uncertain.

Turner explained: “We know Colebrooke is not the fastest horse in the race and jockeys have already got off him and said they would like to ride him over two and a half miles.”

Meanwhile, syndicate manager Brown added: “We are hoping to book young Brendan Powell to take 5lbs off Colebrooke’s back.

“The horse has been around Cheltenham and the boys might wait another ten years for a Festival runner, so we thought it was worth giving it a shot.

“Colebrooke ran in a better grade last time and still finished in front of Baby Mix, who was probably wrong that day, but has won again since.

“Realistically, horses such as Alan King’s Vendor are a stone well in with us.”

The Robeson team could hardly be in better form at present with talented mare Justazippy who has won three and been second in her last four starts, confirming the stable well-being with a victory at Doncaster last Friday.

The yard is optimistic of a prosperous spring.

Their other Festival runner could be Ogee who may run in the 3m JLT Speciality Handicap Chase, a race in which he finished third behind Chief Dan George two years ago in its former guise of the William Hill Chase.

Assistant trainer Stuart Edmunds said: “Ogee is in great form.

“He was second last time on a course (Fakenham) which didn’t really suit him and we are hoping to get in with 10st 2lbs.

“If he doesn’t run at Cheltenham he may go to Newbury ten days later but the spring plan is to run in the Scottish Grand National.”