Bright Forecast carries top billing as the best chasing prospect ever housed at Ben Pauling’s Cotswolds yard.
The trainer has no hesitation elevating the five-year-old to the same bracket of superstar potential previously held by illustrious Bourton-on-the-Water forebears such as former top hurdler Barters Hill or the ill-fated Willoughby Court.
As Pauling looks forward to the burgeoning new National Hunt season, Bright Forecast is one of two prospective novice chasers with championship aspirations over the coming months.
Dual Grade Two-winning hurdler Global Citizen is the other – but after just five career starts, including an Irish point-to-point, it is Bright Forecast who fuels his trainer’s hopes and dreams.
“He’s certainly the best, potentially, we’ve ever had,” said Pauling.
“He’s had one point-to-point run, and we didn’t run him in a bumper – he won over two miles at Newbury, and then was a very fast-finishing three-length third in the Ballymore.
“He was still so green that day, and he’s an exceptional jumper of a fence. We’ve schooled him quite a bit already – and we think he’s a very, very talented horse.”
Neither Bright Forecast nor Global Citizen, who finished a distant seventh of 10 in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, has run since Cheltenham in March.
But both are back to get started at a new discipline Pauling believes will suit them ideally – with opening dates in the diary, November at Huntingdon for Bright Forecast and early December at Sandown for Global Citizen.
Pauling said of the former: “He’ll start off over two and a half miles at Huntingdon, in the race we won with Willoughby Court and Le Breuil for the last couple of years.
“Then it would be on to the Ladbrokes meeting (at Newbury) – for either a two-and-a-half or three-mile Grade Two – and then, we hope, have a look at the Kauto Star (at Kempton over Christmas) if all went well.
“I do think he’ll end up over three miles, but he’s certainly not slow. I just think he’s one of these very talented horses that has got speed and stamina.”
Like Bright Forecast, Global Citizen already has Irish point-to-point experience on his CV.
He is two years older than his stablemate but, Pauling hopes, about to find his true niche too.
“He’s very, very accurate – very quick over his fences,” said the trainer.
“I’d imagine he’ll start off over two miles, then we’d be looking to aim at two and two-and-a-half-mile novice championship races come the end of the season.”
Global Citizen has been imperious on occasions over hurdles, and Pauling is keen to discover whether he can adapt to undulating courses.
For that reason, he is prepared to pitch him at Grade One level early.
“Something like the Henry VIII at Sandown might be a good option – because he’s a very, very accurate and quick jumper, and Sandown would play to his strengths in the jumping department,” he said.
“It’s an undulating track, and it would be good to see how he gets on.
“I’ll be keen to get him out over some undulating tracks, because he’s only ever run once at Cheltenham – and he wasn’t right in the Champion Hurdle, so we draw a line under that.
“Apart from that, he had a very good season – but it’s all on flat tracks. So we’ve got to find out if he’s only a flat-track specialist or if he can handle the undulations of Cheltenham.”
Wherever Global Citizen excels, Pauling anticipates it will be at a high level.
“Our season will be geared towards either Cheltenham or Aintree, for either the two or two-and-a-half-mile Grade One novice chases,” he added.
“He’s dropped to 156 (over hurdles). He was 160 all season, pretty much – then it was only because of one bad run in the Champion Hurdle, when he wasn’t right, that he dropped.
“He could be very exciting and a very smart horse for the season ahead.”