Ben Pauling retains plenty of faith in Tellherthename as he attempts to get to the bottom of what caused his disappointing showing in Aintree’s Formby Novices’ Hurdle.
The five-year-old fetched £200,000 at the sales having got the better of recent Exeter bumper scorer and Envoi Allen’s brother Joyau Allen in the pointing field and backed up that promise in his opening outings under rules, pushing eventual Formby winner Jango Baie all the way at Ascot before bolting up at Huntingdon.
Tellherthename was sent off at odds of 5-1 when making the move to Grade One company on Boxing Day and was up with the pace before stopping quickly approaching three out, eventually being pulled up by jockey Kielan Woods.
Pauling has given the gelding a full MOT following that effort and if nothing comes to light from the extensive bout of testing, the Naunton Downs handler will be content to point towards the testing conditions at Aintree as a plausible reason for Tellherthename’s Formby no-show.
He said: “We’ve explored and turned most stones we can now because we were a bit perplexed at the time as we think he is a bit special. He was just beaten a long way out really for it to be right.
“At the moment we are still investigating but I would pretty much hang my hat on the fact he doesn’t handle that very testing ground.
“Everything so far, all his bloods and stuff, has been good, but we’ve got a few more little bits and bobs to check out.
“He seems very well in himself and if nothing comes to light, I will put it down to the fact he just can’t go on that very soft ground.”
Pauling went on: “I trotted off down the track to try to meet him to make sure he was OK and it was just very hard work.
“It was about as bad a ground I think I’ve seen in a long time and interestingly I shared a lift home with Felix De Giles who rode the French horse, July Flower, in the race and he said it was worse ground than Auteuil by a margin. His horse didn’t even handle the ground and travel to the second hurdle and she is proven on that very soft ground at Auteuil.”
Providing Tellherthename gets the all clear to continue his campaign, Pauling is keen to attempt to restore the talented novice’s confidence at the earliest opportunity.
He will be searching for an opening in calmer waters over the coming weeks where it is hoped the Megson Family-owned gelding can bounce back to his best and reignite spring festival dreams for all connected.
“If nothing comes to light, we will look to get him out in the next 10 days to two weeks in an ordinary novice somewhere, just to get his season back on track,” continued Pauling.
“We can then make plans from there whether we go straight to the Festival or look elsewhere, but as long as the horse is OK.
“From what he did at Huntingdon and before that at Ascot, the form is in the book. He just got touched off by Jango Baie at Ascot and I’m not overly worried about it all – if there is something to find we will find it, if not we will draw a line and go again.
“I think he is a very good horse and as good as we have had for a long time.”
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