Global Citizen will bid to succeed where The New One failed at Cheltenham after bouncing back from a Boxing Day disappointment to land the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on Saturday.
The Unibet-backed Grade 2 contest has been renamed after the popular hurdler who had won it for the last four years, but never finished closer than third in the real thing at the Cheltenham Festival.
Global Citizen earned a second crack at Verdana Blue and Buveur D’Air in March with a game three-length victory under David Bass that confirmed he was better than a wayward fourth in the Christmas Hurdle might have suggested.
Bookmakers reacted by trimming the seven-year-old into 25-1 (from a general 33-1) for the Champion Hurdle on March 12, for which Buveur D’Air is a top-priced 7-4 favourite to win it for the third year in a row.
“I’m utterly thrilled,” said Ben Pauling, who trains the winner for the Megsons partnership. “I knew there was some room for improvement and we’ve seen it today.
“It wasn’t his running at Kempton and to be beaten only 13 lengths there when he hung so badly showed the ability he has.
“He was a little sore behind and we sorted that out and it’s a great result.”
Less aggressive tactics also helped a hurdler, who had won three of his five starts before Kempton.
“We’d let him roll from the front in his last couple of starts and he was on it too much the whole way,” Pauling said. “We jumped him off in second rank today and he was good. Down the back David was able to ride a race on him rather than just restrain him.
“His hurdling was incredible again, which is the main key to his success. He has a big future.
“I kept him in this division because I thought he could be near enough a Champion Hurdle type and today he’s proved that. He’ll go there with a chance and the track will suit because he stays.”
Global Citizen: ‘has a chance’ in the Champion Hurdle in the eyes of
trainer Ben Pauling
On the other hand, runner-up Silver Streak was ruled out after spoiling his chance with a mistake three out and trainer Evan Williams said: “He won’t go for the Champion Hurdle, his jumping isn’t good enough in that grade.
“There’s no point in being dreamers, we’ve lived the dream. If we go anywhere we’ll go to Wincanton for the Kingwell.”
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