Leading hurdler Just Got Home is likely to be thrown in at the deep end for his steeplechasing debut in next Monday’s $50,000 White Cliffs Timber McGregor Grant Steeplechase at Ellerslie.
The Storming Home gelding had a look around the Ellerslie steeplechase course at this morning's jumping school, where he was ridden by Emily Farr. His hitout delighted his connections and confirmed a first race start over the bigger fences in seven days’ time.
"He went very well and we were really happy,” said Megan Liefting, whose husband Rudy trains the nine-year-old.
"Jumping those fences is definitely no problem for him at all. The only question we have about steeplechases is whether he can go those longer distances in the very heavy tracks.
"But we’ll have a go on Monday, where both steeplechases are over 4150 metres. We haven’t quite decided whether to go in the maiden or the McGregor Grant, but I myself am inclined to go for the McGregor Grant.
"The maiden is only worth $10,000, and with his jumping ability, we might as well aim for the bigger money. It’s no guarantee that you’d win the maiden, whereas you could still get a reasonable amount for placing in the big race.
"He’s always at the top of the weights in hurdles. He’s been a topweight since his very first season hurdling, and unless Sea King is there he’s been the topweight in every race since then. This is the chance to start off at 65 kilograms again, and how often do we get to do that? We may as well go for the big race.
"We’ll probably nominate for both and see how the two races are looking, but there aren’t many big steeplechase races in the rest of this winter over a slightly shorter distance like the McGregor Grant. My inclination is to run and see what happens. Some people might say we should start him off in a maiden, but why risk him for such a small stake?”
What happens on Monday is likely to determine the path the Lieftings take for the rest of Just Got Home’s campaign.
"He’ll probably still go the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle, which he won last year, and then we’ll make up our minds about the rest of the campaign based on what happens on Monday.”