Gavin Cromwell will resist a move up in trip for his classy novice chaser Darver Star as he tries to avoid a clash with Envoi Allen.
The County Meath trainer is hoping the very testing ground at Punchestown on Saturday was the cause of Darver Star’s laboured performance when beaten into a near 10-length third as a short-priced favourite.
The eight-year-old, third in last season’s Champion Hurdle when he finished less than seven lengths behind Epatante at Cheltenham, began his chasing career with an impressive beginners’ success at Punchestown last month.
He had no answer, though, to Gordon Elliott’s winner Felix Desjy over a furlong shorter in a Grade Two over the weekend.
“Obviously, we were a bit disappointed,” said Cromwell.
“He didn’t travel very well in the race – he actually looked a bit slow.
“But the ground was verging on heavy, and he’s a better horse on nicer ground.”
There is no panic yet after one moderate effort – but Cromwell is adamant he wants to keep well out of the way of Elliott’s potential superstar novice Envoi Allen, who appears set to operate at two and a half miles this season after taking his unbeaten career sequence under rules to nine on his chasing debut at Down Royal.
“I think we’ll just have to put a line through it – he didn’t just get slow since March,” he added.
“So I’m not too concerned just yet. He was very good the first day (over fences), and we’ll be aiming him at Christmas.
“All being well, we’ll stick to two miles at the moment.
“You’d like to have the option of going two and a half. But then you don’t really want to come up against Envoi Allen – that is absolutely paramount.”
Cromwell had a little more to smile about three-and-a-half hours later on Saturday – when Letsbeclearaboutit remained unbeaten as he doubled his career tally in the closing bumper.
Reflecting on the five-year-old’s eight-length win, again from Enniskerry whom he had beaten by slightly less on debut and had to give 7lb this time, Cromwell made clear he has significant aspirations for the rest of the campaign.
“He is obviously a very smart horse,” he said.
“He’s going to stay in bumpers for this season. There’s a good chance he’ll probably go to Navan for the Listed bumper there in a month’s time.
“Beyond that, we’ll see. But we’ll maybe look at the Graded bumper in Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival, depending how things progress.”