Hold The Note will try to emulate stablemate Mister Whitaker by opening his account over fences in the Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Mick Channon-trained six-year-old is being readied for a drop in class and trip in the extended two-and-a-half-mile contest – which Mister Whitaker claimed in 2018.
After finishing third on his chasing debut at Ludlow, the Tim Radford-owned gelding was forced to pull up after being stopped in his tracks by a faller in front of him at Kempton on Boxing Day – and then found only one too strong in a Grade Two at Warwick on his first attempt over three miles last time out.
Jack Channon, assistant to his father, said: “He was very unlucky at Kempton. I think he would have gone close that day, and it was a cracking run last time.
“I certainly think he will stay three miles next season, but he was not quite strong enough to see it out in that class on that ground. It just caught him out a little bit.
“He will go straight for the race at Cheltenham. He is off 145, so he will be near the top of the weights, but in that sort of handicap there will be about a 5lb spread.
“I think ability-wise he is there if not better than Mister Whitaker. That two-mile-four trip should be fine up the hill, and hopefully he is still a well-handicapped horse.”
Ground conditions will determine which race Randox Health Grand National entry Mister Whitaker will contest at the Festival, with both the Ultima Handicap Chase and Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate under consideration.
Channon said: “We are going to look at the Ultima and the Brown Advisory – and I’d say at the moment Tim (Radford, owner) is leaning more towards the Brown Advisory.
“It will be down to the ground – if it is really soft we will go two and a half in the Brown Advisory, because he has just got a bit tired the last two times there on tacky ground.
“The Grand National is still on the radar, but we need to see how he goes between now and then.”
The yard’s Grade Two-winning chaser Glen Forsa has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after sustaining a ligament injury following his comeback run at Newbury in November.
Channon said: “Glen Forsa had a small setback after Newbury. We’ve just had to give him time off – because although it is not a bad injury, if we carried on it would have caused more damage.
“He will be back next season.”