RACING: Ravenhill Road will be stepped up in trip on his next start as he bids to maintain his unbeaten record.
Trainer Brian Ellison has earmarked the Sunbets Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two miles and three furlongs on Friday as the next port of call for the talented six-year-old who he regards as one of his most exciting prospects.
After winning both his bumper starts, the Phil Martin-owned gelding defied an absence of almost a year to make a winning debut over hurdles at Sedgefield in October which added to the trainer’s enthusiasm.
Malton-based Ellison said: “He is a sound horse, I just don’t want to run him on heavy ground. He likes good and good to soft ground.
“He will run in another novice at Doncaster at the end of the month and then we will take it from there.
“He is 17 hands and will go chasing next year. He is going to be a top-class chaser because he jumps so well. I think he will be 160-plus over fences. He will have entries at Cheltenham this season, but he might be more of an Aintree horse.”
Eddie Harty believes today’s Sodexo Graduation Chase at Ascot is the perfect starting point for his potential Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Coney Island.
A Grade One winner as a novice last season, he has not been seen for almost a year since being caught close to home by subsequent Irish National winner Our Duke at Leopardstown.
“There’s a bit of nervous apprehension ahead of it, but also relief,” said Harty. “He’s just ready to run now and this race was there. He’s only days away from a year off, so with the Lexus (Leopardstown Christmas Chase) looking like being as hot as it is, I thought this looked a sensible starting point.”
Jockey Aidan Coleman has been handed a chance to break his Grade One duck in Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase at Kempton.
With owner Dai Walters’ retained rider Davy Russell opting to stay at home for Leopardstown’s big meeting, the mount was up for grabs.
As trainer Nicky Henderson’s preferred jockey Nico de Boinville rides stablemate and favourite Might Bite, Coleman is the effective third choice.
“It is fantastic to be part of what is going to be a great race,” said Coleman who does have several lesser Grade Two success to his name. “It is a cracking race and I would give last year’s winner Thistlecrack the benefit of the doubt.”
Grade One winner Kylemore Lough could run next in the 32Red Casino Chase at Kempton on January 13.
Trainer Harry Fry has earmarked the two-and-a-half-mile Listed contest for the eight-year-old after swerving an outing in the Peterborough Chase at Taunton earlier this month.
The former Kerry Lee-trained gelding turned in a disappointing effort on his debut for the Seaborough handler after pulling up in BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month, for which he was sent off the 4-1 favourite.
Fry said: “He came out of Cheltenham really well, but he was just not quite ready to run in the Peterborough Chase.”
Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Special Tiara could bid for a third victory in the Unibet Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Wednesday.
Henry de Bromhead’s stable stalwart claimed this Grade Two prize in 2014 and again 12 months ago before securing his career-defining success at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The 10-year-old finished third behind Fox Norton on his seasonal reappearance in last month’s Shloer Chase and is one of nine entries.
Yorkshire could be represented by Brian Ellison’s Forest Bihan who won at Kelso before being pulled up in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter after being unsuited by heavy ground.