Grade One-winning hurdler Metier is set to return to competitive action at Newbury next week following a racecourse gallop at the Berkshire circuit on Tuesday.
Harry Fry’s charge won his first three starts over obstacles last season – completing his hat-trick with a dominant display in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in early January.
As a result, the five-year-old lined up as Britain’s chief hope for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but trailed home last of seven finishers.
Fry is hopeful Metier can show his true colours on Saturday week, however, when he is due to contest the Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle – better known as the Gerry Feilden.
“The Gerry Feilden has been on the agenda for Metier, (but) he will definitely need some rain – that is the one proviso,” the trainer told Racing TV.
“That is why he was so good last year – in those testing conditions.
“He’s had one bad run and I think we can forgive him that.”
Metier was joined in his racecourse gallop by stable companion Boothill, who caught the eye on his seasonal reappearance when third in a competitive handicap hurdle at Ascot last month.
While on paper that was a fine effort by a horse running over obstacles for only the second time, Fry feels he is better than he showed and is excited to see him kick off his chasing career at Newbury.
“The two-mile novices’ handicap chase on the Friday will be Boothill’s chasing debut,” Fry confirmed.
“We were actually disappointed to get beat (at Ascot) and it was my fault – I’d been training him for a novices’ handicap chase, which he couldn’t run in because he’d only had the one start over hurdles.
“He wasn’t fully wound up and blew up turning in. He’s a horse that’s had problems, but he came out of it in one piece and we brought him here today to bring him forward again.
“He’s a real bull of a horse, so that will have done him no harm at all and he’s schooled brilliantly.”