Nicky Richards is eyeing the Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle as a potential next port of call for his exciting prospect Ribble Valley.
The dual bumper winner was hugely impressive in winning his first two starts over jumps at Hexham and Wetherby in the autumn, but had to make do with the runner-up spot behind Colin Tizzard’s Master Debonair when stepped up to Grade Two level at Ascot last month.
Ribble Valley held entries in both the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle and the The New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock, but Richards decided against letting his charge take up either of those engagements.
“He had a hard enough race at Ascot and I’m quite sure he’ll be a better horse on better ground,” said the Greystoke handler.
“He was just far too free (at Ascot). I don’t care how good your horse is, if you run that free for two-thirds of the race, you’re not going to get home – especially in that sort of ground.
“We’re in no great rush with him. We’ll see what the ground is looking like, but we might look at the Premier Hurdle at Kelso.
“I don’t think we’ll be taking him to Cheltenham this year. I’ve no doubt he’s a very good horse, but he’s still got a bit of growing up to do, so it could be that we miss Cheltenham and look at Aintree or Ayr – there’s plenty of of options.
“He’ll learn his job and grow up and I’m sure he’s going to end up being a very nice horse in the future.”