Animator made the perfect start to his jumping career at Hastings on Saturday where he took out the Hawke’s Bay Hunt Maiden Hurdle (2500m).
Trainer Brendon Hawtin was pleased with the victory, which adds to the gelding’s six wins on the flat.
“It was a good thrill on Saturday and one would think he could go on with it,” he said.
“Overall his jumping was brilliant and he certainly ran out the 2500m really strong. There is plenty of upside that is for sure.”
Hawtin started to put Animator over the fences as part of his training 18 months ago and he said the son of Encosta De Lago has been a natural from the very beginning.
“Just with his antics in racing, hanging and that sort of thing, we just started popping him over the logs as part of his training and slowly moved up to the hurdles.
“From day one he jumped really well and that was always going to be his forte. So far it has worked out well.”
Animator had two hurdle trials at Cambridge in autumn and Hawtin was confident heading into Saturday after what he has seen from his gelding.
“His first jumping trial we just wanted to get around safely and give him a good experience and he ran third,” Hawtin said. “Emily Farr, who has done a lot of the work on the horse, rode him there.
“His second jumping trial was against the open hurdlers and we put a bit of pressure on him and he managed to win that, and his two flat runs since have been good to have him fit and ready for Saturday.”
Hawtin said he is unsure of where he will head to next with Animator, but a return trip to the same meeting next season is on the cards for the promising jumper.
“It’s hard when these maideners win a hurdle race. You sort of jump straight into the open grade and that can sometimes make things more difficult.
“We haven’t got too many big plans for him this season, but next season you would like to think that he will be running in races like the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (3500m).
“He may well end up in Australia at some stage, but we are going to take it step-by-step at the moment.”