Cromwell deliberating Festival options for Flooring Porter

Flooring Porter could head straight to the Cheltenham Festival after coming up short in Grade One company over the Christmas period – but whether he will stick to fences or bid to secure a third Stayers’ Hurdle title remains uncertain.

The nine-year-old dominated from the front when claiming the Stayers’ Hurdle crown in both 2021 and 2022 and finished an honourable fourth when looking to make it a hat-trick last season.

This season Gavin Cromwell’s stable star has had his attentions switched to the larger obstacles and made an impressive start to his new career at Cheltenham in October.

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Gavin Cromwell celebrates with Flooring Porter at Cheltenham
Gavin Cromwell celebrates with Flooring Porter at Cheltenham (Steven Paston/PA)

However, he was well held in third in the Grade Two Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown on his next start, and while connections were hopeful a return to a left-handed track would see him in a better light in last week’s Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown, he again had to make do with minor honours behind the impressive Grangeclare West.

Cromwell said: “He jumped really well, no excuses. The winner was very good on the day and we were beaten fair and square.

“He jumped well and he’s probably going to struggle at that level over fences.”

The County Meath handler is not ruling out the possibility of Flooring Porter contesting one of the novice chases at the Festival, but confirmed a return to the smaller obstacles is under consideration.

“It’s hard to know where we go. I will put him in the Stayers’ Hurdle,” he added.

“We could potentially go straight to Cheltenham with him, as we did when he won the two Stayers’ Hurdles after Christmas.

“I’m not saying he will go for the Stayers’ Hurdle. We could go straight to Cheltenham, but what race we go for is very much up in the air.”

My Mate Mozzie winning over fences at Cheltenham
My Mate Mozzie winning over fences at Cheltenham (Tim Goode/PA)

Another Cromwell inmate who was placed at Grade One level at Leopardstown over the festive period was My Mate Mozzie, who filled the runner-up spot behind Found A Fifty in the Racing Post Novice Chase.

The trainer was delighted with his eight-year-old’s performance, but with hot favourite Facile Vega a huge disappointment, he does question the strength of the form.

Cromwell said: “He finished off really well, but I suppose he was ridden to do that and he may have been a bit flattered by the fact the favourite had cried enough and Sharjah hasn’t just been in form of late either, but it was nice to be second in a Grade One.

“I’m not sure where we’ll go now, I suppose the Grand Annual is a possibility at the Festival.”

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