Festival hope Ask Ben facing Prestige examination at Haydock

Graeme McPherson outlines plans for novice hurdler

  • Monday 21 January
  • News
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Ask Ben will have his Cheltenham Festival credentials tested in Haydock’s Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle on February 16.

A surprise 50-1 winner of The French Furze Novices’ Hurdle on his debut under Rules at Newcastle, he secured a second victory at Ayr on Sunday.

“I think we’ve got a smart prospect on our hands,” said trainer Graeme McPherson.

“Before Newcastle we thought he was a nice horse, but he hadn’t shown enough at home to think he was a very nice horse, so Newcastle was a pleasant surprise.

“We then took him to Haydock – which ended up being a void race actually – over two miles to sharpen up his jumping knowing next time we’d step him back up to three.

“The fact Beakstown won a Grade Two at Warwick having finished behind us at Newcastle franked that form and we went with a lot of confidence yesterday. I was delighted – not just that he won, but the way he won it. He wasn’t extended to win by nearly 20 lengths.

“He’ll definitely get an Albert Bartlett entry and I would like to go to Haydock in the middle of next month as because of the void race, he’s probably only jumped 30 hurdles so I’d like another race if we can.

“Haydock is four weeks from this weekend and then four weeks until the Albert Bartlett, so it fits in very nicely.

“I don’t think he needs cut in the ground, but he’s better with it as he’s a relentless galloper. On soft a lot will struggle to go with him.

“For a young horse with so little experience he’s so professional. He went all the way to Ayr by himself and he’s back this morning without looking like he’s had a race.

“If it came up soft in March, there’d be a few of us getting excited.”

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