Colonel Mustard will step back into Grade One company for his next outing before being aimed at either the Supreme or Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Lorna Fowler’s seven-year-old heads to Leopardstown for the two-mile Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle on Sunday week after chasing home the highly-regarded Jonbon in the Grade Two Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot last month.
Though the Nicky Henderson-trained Jonbon barely came off the bridle in handing out a two-and-three-quarter-length beating, County Meath-based Fowler is hopeful last season’s Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle runner-up can continue to progress after learning more about the Makfi gelding.
“He is in very good form, I am happy to say, and at the moment we are still on course for Leopardstown next weekend. Providing the ground is OK, that is the plan,” said Fowler.
“He came back from Ascot with no bother – he seemed very pleased with himself, which was great – and we are just stirring him up for the next occasion.
“Obviously, everyone is getting very excited about all these novices’ going to Cheltenham, but right now we are just focussing on Leopardstown.
“He has entries in the Ballymore and the Supreme, but we will focus on the goal right now, which is Leopardstown.”
Jonbon followed up with a hard-earned success in deep ground in the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday and while pushed out to 4-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Fowler felt that the Ascot form had been franked.
“It is amazing how you are put up there to be slammed,” she added.
“Everyone was quite mute about Jonbon’s performance in terms of no-one was particularly impressed at Haydock and he got pushed out in the market, but I think it was very testing ground and he has done very well.
“He wasn’t impressive, he was workmanlike, but Nicky did say he quickened away twice, and you can’t argue with that. We were beaten by a good horse at Ascot, but equally, we think Colonel Mustard is a good horse and hopefully he will continue to prove it.”