Jonathan Sweeney is hopeful there is more to come from Churchstonewarrior after his promising placed performance in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle.
The seven-year-old was a 25-1 chance for last weekend’s Grade One feature, with eventual winner Ginto at the head of affairs as the 5-4 favourite.
Ginto – who cost a princely €470,000 at the sales – justified his odds with an impressive victory to cement his Cheltenham credentials, but Sweeney’s gelding ran pleasingly in fourth having travelled and jumped well throughout under Mark Walsh.
The race was the horse’s first foray into top-level action, having previously finished second in a Grade Three at Cork in early December.
Prior to that he was successful in both a maiden and a novice hurdle and has bumper form from last season with a Thurles success under his belt.
“I was delighted with him, you’d have to be wouldn’t you?” Sweeney said.
“It was a high-quality race, it was definitely was, and I thought he ran very well.
“It was a big step and I suppose it’d be the best run he’s had yet.”
Sweeney has no confirmed plans as of yet, but a graduation to chasing is the long-term goal with a novice campaign over fences the expected target next season.
“We’ve got to put a bit of a plan together to see where we’ll go next, but he’s fine and he’s come out if it really well. We’re very happy with him,” he said.
“He’s a lovely horse who seems to be taking everything in his stride.
“Please God he’ll be something to look forward to not just this year, but also next year over a fence.”