Sam Brown handed Aintree aim

Honeyball opts to bypass Cheltenham Festival.

  • Wednesday 19 February
  • News
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Anthony Honeyball will give Sam Brown a short break before stepping him up to Grade One level for the first time in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

The Dorset trainer has identified the April 3 feature as the eight-year-old’s next target, after deciding to bypass entries in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase and National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Having backed up his successful chasing debut at Lingfield in a Grade Two at Haydock, Sam Brown saw his unbeaten run over fences end last Saturday when pulling up in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot.

Honeyball said: “I decided to take him out of both races at Cheltenham and the plan will be to go to Aintree for the Mildmay.

“He didn’t blow hard after the race at Ascot on Saturday and as long as he is physically well, I think he can come back with a bang at Aintree.

“A flat track, going left-handed, where he will have lots of daylight, will hopefully show us just what level he stands at.”

Reflecting on his Ascot performance, Honeyball believes work can be done at home with Sam Brown’s jumping ahead of his next assignment.

He said: “He was a bit slow over the first couple and gradually lost his position and confidence before the wheels came off. The best thing Aidan (Coleman) did was to pull him up when he did.

“When he made mistakes at Haydock it didn’t cost him, but at Ascot they cost him a lot more. The fences came thick and fast and he just never jumped well, while I don’t think the undulations suited him.

“We will school him at home to get his confidence back and I’m sure we can put a line through his Ascot run.”

The 34 acceptors for the RSA are headed by Nicky Henderson’s Champ, Minella Indo from Henry de Bromhead’s stable and Willie Mullins’ star 12-year-old Faugheen.

Honeyball has left Midnight Tune in the National Hunt Chase, for which 39 horses remain following the latest forfeit stage.

Among the fancied horses are the Mullins-trained Carefully Selected, Gordon Elliott’s Champagne Classic and Colin Tizzard’s Copperhead.

De Bromhead’s Notebook, unbeaten in four starts over fences this season, headlines 23 horses going forward for the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase.

Itchy Feet, who gave Olly Murphy a first Grade One triumph in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown, is among 46 left in the Marsh Novices’ Chase, which is another option for Faugheen.

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