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Measuring up to success 07/05/08

Mad Max’s eight-length G2 bumper win at Newbury in February marked him out as a horse with a big future. And we mean big.

The six-year-old Kayf Tara gelding stands at a whopping 18hh and his size was the main reason for him not appearing at the racecourse until this year.

“We wanted to take our time with him,” says owner/breeder Paul Murphy, who operates a small stud farm in Wychnor in Staffordshire. “John Mackie did a lot of the early work with him before he went to Nicky Henderson. He has been in training for two months each year since he’s been old enough to get him used to the idea.”

The penny certainly dropped for his racecourse debut in January, also at Newbury, which he won in fine style. With two winning bumper efforts to the gelding’s name, many owners would have been tempted to head straight to Cheltenham but Paul, who co-owns the horse with Carole Skipworth, who raced his dam Carole’s Crusdaer, has steered a steady course.

He said: “He may go straight to novice chasing next year but whatever happens, we won’t rush him. He has a serious engine.”

Mad Max’s belated debut has meant his younger siblings have caught him up and Carole’s Crusader had the rare distinction of having three bumper winners in the same season. Her Lord Americo five-year-old gelding Jayne’s Crusader won at Towcester recently while Carole’s Legacy (by Sir Harry Lewis), the youngest of the trio at four, has won twice, including the Listed mares’ bumper at Aintree.

Now 17, Carole’s Crusader was a prolific steeplechase winner herself when trained by David Gandolfo. While she was among Kayf Tara’s first book of mares, Paul has also sent another of his prolific broodmares Eponine to him recently. The seven-time winner by Sharpo currently has a Kayf Tara yearling filly whom her breeder describes as ‘very nice indeed’.