Bob And Co pencilled in for Haydock prep ahead of Cheltenham target

David Maxwell’s Bob And Co could head to Haydock to defend his Walrus Open Hunter Chase title before running at the Cheltenham Festival.

The 11-year-old was a 17-length winner of the same race last season, a run that was the first of his campaign and led to the Cheltenham Festival in March, where he unseated Sean Bowen three fences from home when going with promise in the Festival Hunters’ Chase.

Maxwell could not ride in either race due to Covid-19 restrictions, but he was back in the plate for the remainder of the season, winning a Hexham hunter chase by 41 lengths in April before going on to land the Champion Hunters Chase at Punchestown later that month.

A second-placed run in the Stratford Foxhunters Champion Hunters’ Chase followed in May and that is the Paul Nicholls-trained bay’s most recent outing to date, as he has not been seen yet this season.

The Haydock race on February 19 is Bob And Co’s intended starting point, ahead of another tilt at the Festival Hunters’ Chase, this time with Maxwell in the saddle.

“Bob And Co definitely would be my first choice for Cheltenham,” he said.

“I think Paul’s planning Haydock with him, he tells me, the Walrus.

“It’ll be one run and then Cheltenham with him.

“Paul just put him away for hunter chasing, he basically said ‘you’re just going to have one run and then he’s going to win the Foxhunters’, all right?’.

“He’s a very, very good jumper and on his day he can be magnificent.

“I think he has a very good chance, he was running a really big race last year when he fell.”

Cat Tiger (right) seen at Aintree last year
Cat Tiger (right) seen at Aintree last year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Maxwell also issued an update on his Nicholls-trained stablemate Cat Tiger, who was last seen finishing second to Philip Hobbs’ Kalooki in a Doncaster handicap chase on December 29.

Another handicap is the likely next step for the eight-year-old before he contests a hunter chase, with limited options in the latter division necessitating an outing in standard company.

“He might go for a handicap and then go hunter chasing,” Maxwell said.

“All of the ones with Paul are for hunter chasing basically but he’ll go for a handicap first, I should imagine.

“The hunter chases are just a bit thin on the ground, every year a few more disappear from the programme book.”

David Maxwell has ruled Cat Tiger out of Cheltenham and Aintree
David Maxwell has ruled Cat Tiger out of Cheltenham and Aintree (David Davies/PA)

Neither Cheltenham nor Aintree are on the agenda for the gelding as their respective hunter chases are not deemed suitable, with Maxwell considering the Cheltenham trip too lengthy and the Aintree fences not to Cat Tiger’s liking after a handful of mistakes in the Sefton Chase in November.

“I wouldn’t have thought three and a quarter (miles) would be for him, that’ll be Bob And Co who’ll go there,” he said of Cheltenham.

“He didn’t jump a twig in the Sefton so he’ll not go to Aintree, he just doesn’t jump the fences well enough.”

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