Decor Irlandais may make a Cheltenham appearance on New Year’s Day following his latest impressive success at Catterick.
A four-time winner in the Irish point-to-point sphere, Noel Kelly’s charge opened his account under Rules with a dominant display at Cartmel in June – and comfortably followed up at the Cumbrian circuit the following month.
He was beaten on his next couple of starts, at Sligo and back at Cartmel, but regained the winning thread in some style on Tuesday – barely coming off the bridle in beating high-class chaser Mercian Prince by two and a half lengths.
“He won very impressively, and we’re obviously delighted with him,” said Kelly.
“We’re just discussing now what we’re going to do next.
“He was rated 145 going to Catterick, so you’d think he’ll in the 150s now.
“There’s a novice hurdle at Cheltenham on January 1, so we’ll have a look and see if he qualifies for that.”
Decor Irlandais started off in the point-to-point sphere, before running with credit in a couple of Irish bumpers during the summer of 2018.
Kelly feels the decision to subsequently revert to point-to-pointing has been the making of his charge.
He added: “He had a few little problems as a younger horse, and his jumping was terrible. He got a couple of bad falls, and we said we’d go down the point-to-point route to give him some confidence.
“He was good at that, so we decided to give him a run in a maiden hurdle in Cartmel – which he won easily – and he’s just kept improving.”
The County Derry-based trainer already has one eye on a potential trip to the Cheltenham Festival for either the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle or the longer Albert Bartlett.
He said: “We’re hoping he might end up at Cheltenham in March. That’s a long way off yet, but he’s ticking all the boxes at the moment.
“If he went to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, we could give him a little break then and give him one more run three weeks before the Festival. That’s what we’d be thinking at the moment.
“He’ll have no problem staying three miles and further. He ran over three and a bit miles at Cartmel during the summer and finished fourth, but he wasn’t right that day.”