Ann and Ian Hamilton have to decide whether or not to enter Tommy’s Oscar in the Champion Hurdle before he tests his mettle in the New One Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on January 22.
The seven-year-old has won his last three, rising to a rating of 156 which considering former champion hurdler Epatante is only rated 153 having dead-heated in the Fighting Fifth and won the Christmas Hurdle on her last two starts, compares favourably.
The Hamiltons are not exactly used to making entries for early-closing races, with a string of just six horses and two of those currently out injured, but they will have to bite the bullet soon.
“He came out of Musselburgh well and it’s Haydock next,” said Ian Hamilton.
“The press are trying to build him up, but he’d have to win at Haydock to go to Cheltenham – the thing is we’ve got to enter for Cheltenham before he goes to Haydock.
“I personally think he’s still a bit off Champion Hurdle class, he’d have to go really well at Haydock but we’ve got to pay £500 before Haydock!
“He’s a smashing horse, he really is. The horses are healthy and well, but we’ve only four in training as we’ve two off sick.
“We’ve tried him over two and a half miles before, and he did have top-weight in heavy ground but he didn’t get home – that’s why we’re not thinking of Aintree.
“With his rating, he’s got to go in the level-weights races.
“We should have had him in the Fighting Fifth really – although he still wouldn’t have run as we were coming to the Rehearsal Chase with Nuts Well but we couldn’t get out because of the storm.”
Nuts Well instead ran in the Castleford Chase over two miles at Wetherby, finishing third, and will step up to three miles next time out.
“Brian (Hughes) gave him a lovely ride at Wetherby with a big weight to be third,” Hamilton went on.
“He’ll go to Doncaster next for the Sky Bet Chase at the end of the month (January 29). That’s three miles, but the ground never gets too bad there and it’s a flat track so there’s a good chance he’ll get the trip.
“He’s 11 now but he seems as good as ever.”