There will be no Grand National bid for Famous Bridge in 2024, but the improving stayer will be set some stern tests as he attempts to continue his rise up the chasing ranks.
Trained by Nicky Richards, the eight-year-old is becoming a real force over staying trips and made it back-to-back Haydock victories when landing the Tommy Whittle Chase just before Christmas.
His thirst for a stamina test and sure-footed jumping makes him the ideal candidate for the Grand National and sporting the colours of the Hemmings Family, the Aintree showpiece will always be high up on the agenda.
However, Richards is keen to keep building Famous Bridge’s chasing experience in the second half of the current campaign where he will seek to add to his burgeoning CV.
“He’s going along grand and he looks like he stays well, he’s a good, tough lad,” said Richards.
“I think myself and Mick (Meagher, racing manager to Hemmings Racing) thought it was probably just a year too soon (for the National).
“It was just his seventh run over fences in the Tommy Whittle and he is a lovely horse going forward. If he gets another two or three nice runs this year, hopefully we will be able to work towards the National next year.”
Options for Famous Bridge’s next outing include a return to Merseyside in search of a Haydock hat-trick in the Sky Bet Peter Marsh Chase on January 20 or wait an extra week for Doncaster’s Great Yorkshire Handicap Chase.
“There’s the Peter Marsh back at Haydock but I don’t know if that might come a week too soon for him,” added Richards.
“I haven’t done a great deal with him yet but he’s had canters and everything and everything seems grand with him so we will see.
“Then there is the Great Yorkshire the week after and we probably need a bit of rain there.
“There are nice races about for him and he’s a grand horse going forward. We will be racing him and he will be running in good races.”
However, it is unlikely the Cheltenham Festival will enter the equation with a further Town Moor contest, as well as Aintree and Ayr taking precedence when the season enters spring.
“Mr Hemmings loved Aintree and he loved the Ayr festival as well, so that will all be discussed as we go along, one race at a time,” continued Richards.
“You also have the Grimthorpe (at Doncaster) as well which is quite a valuable race now, so there are plenty of different options.
“That one (Grimthorpe) is early March, so it would probably be too quick to then go to Cheltenham.
“But we will be keeping our options open and he’s in grand old fettle and we are very happy with the way he is going along.”