Dipper date looms for Wholestone

Twiston-Davies novice set for new-year return to Cheltenham.

  • Monday 18 November
  • News
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Wholestone may attempt to enhance his impressive Cheltenham record by taking a step up in class in the Dipper Novices Chase on New Year’s Day.

The Grade Two contest has been earmarked as a potential target by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, after the eight-year-old got his career back on track over fences on Saturday with a fifth victory at the Gloucestershire course.

An outing in the Dipper would mean a drop back to an extended two and a half miles for the triple Grade Two-winning hurdler, but Twiston-Davies believes he has enough pace to cope.

He said: “Another novice chase will be difficult to find with him, because he will have two penalties now, although he will probably have another entry at the next Cheltenham (in December).

“There is always Kempton (at Christmas) – but we don’t think he is as good right- handed, and we would prefer to stay left.

“There is absolutely no problem with two and a half, because he has plenty of speed. He was tanking through the race last time, so he could come back for that (Dipper). That could be the one for him.”

Twiston-Davies is considering a short break for Al Dancer before a possible shot at the Grade Two Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton on December 27

Last season’s Betfair Hurdle hero lost his unbeaten record over fences when he had to settle for second best at the same level in the Arkle Trial at Cheltenham on Sunday.

The Cotswolds trainer said: “He was probably giving 10lb to what was a very good horse. He beat the one they all said was going to beat him (Getaway Trump).

“I think he ran a very good race again. She (winner Put The Kettle On) could be very good – and let’s hope that’s what it is.

“That (Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown) will probably be too soon. He has had two races now, so he probably wouldn’t go there. We have Kempton (Wayward Lad) – and we could go there.”

A step up in trip appears to be on the agenda for Good Boy Bobby, after he went one better than on his Carlisle debut over fences with victory at Wetherby on Saturday.

Twiston-Davies said: “He is very good and he can move up a gear now – hopefully to two and a half. He did well at Wetherby without being extravagant.

“When you make all your own running it is quite hard work to look too flashy. We are not rushing to push things yet with him.”

Plans to turn Ballyandy into a Stayers’ Hurdle contender appear to have been put on the back-burner by Twiston-Davies, following his below-par effort in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby earlier this month.

He said: “For whatever reason, he didn’t run a great race. Whether it was the distance or not, we are still thinking.

“We will probably pop back to a two-and-a-half-mile handicap now. We won’t go over three miles for the moment – but we might change our minds.”

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