Ben Pauling is excited to see his stable star Global Citizen kick off his career over fences in what promises to be a fascinating beginners’ chase at Carlisle on Thursday.
The seven-year-old can count big-race triumphs in the Dovecote at Kempton, the Gerry Feilden at Newbury and the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock among his four victories over the smaller obstacles, while he was last seen finishing seventh in the Champion Hurdle itself.
Despite his lofty hurdles rating of 156, Global Citizen is unlikely to have things all his own way in Cumbria, with a clutch of seriously talented rivals lying in wait.
Pauling said: “Global Citizen is in fabulous form and is very well in himself. He will improve for the run, but he is straight enough to do himself justice.
“He has been a very good jumper and we are looking forward to getting him out over fences, but it is going to be a competitive race.
“He is in at Cheltenham on Friday, but that can be quite daunting first time out, so we are all off to Carlisle.
“He is so much more settled this season and he is much quieter. The girl riding him at home has done a brilliant job.
“He was a very good hurdler and was very slick and although this is a different discipline, he gives his fences proper respect and makes the right shape over them.”
Midnight Shadow is rated just 1lb below Global Citizen over hurdles after an impressive display in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
Sue Smith’s inmate disappointed when he returned to Prestbury Park for the Stayers’ Hurdle in March, but the former Scottish Champion Hurdle winner is nevertheless an exciting recruit to the novice chasing division.
Smith said: “It’s a good race, but we’ve got to start somewhere and Carlisle has strong enough fences and he should cope with two miles round there well.
“He’s schooled well, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully he has a good education and comes back safe and sound.”
Brewin’upastorm was a high-class novice hurdler for Olly Murphy last season – most notably finishing fourth in the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival before chasing home Reserve Tank at Aintree.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson takes the ride on his chasing bow, but Murphy has issued a warning to his potential supporters.
“He’s in good form and it’s a nice place to start, albeit it looks very competitive,” said the Warren Chase handler.
“However, I have to reiterate he will 100 per cent come on for the run as he’s three weeks behind the rest of my horses because he had a wind op during the summer.
“I’m happy with him and he’s there to do his best, but whatever he does, he will improve and if he can jump round nicely and finish in the first three I’ll be delighted.”
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Good Boy Bobby won three of his four starts over hurdles last season – making a winning start at this track before going on to add to his tally at Southwell and Ffos Las in the spring.
Jason Maguire, racing manager for his owners Paul and Clare Rooney, said: “I can see why all these good horses are running as Carlisle is a lovely place to start a horse over fences. The two-mile start in particular is very good.
“From our point of view, we’re looking forward to getting him started. He’s a nice horse and hopefully he’ll have a clear round and give us something to build on.
“He’s the fourth best horse in the race on official ratings, so we’re under no illusions. We just hope he has a nice experience and comes back safe and sound.”
The small but select field for the Dianne Sayer Racing Beginners’ Chase is completed by Donald McCain’s The Some Dance Kid, who won his final three races over hurdles last season and yet is likely to be the outsider.
McCain said: “It’s a nice easy start for him!
“He’s a grand horse. He was supposed to go to the EBF Final at the end of last season, but he got an abscess in his foot and couldn’t run.
“I’ve always said I like to start my novice chasers at Carlisle as it’s a great track. It’s obviously a very good race, but the owners know the score and we can go there with no pressure and let the others sweat!
“There aren’t a lot of races for novice chasers and I’d rather start him here than go somewhere we don’t really want to go.”