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Festival heroine Indefatigable in line for weekend Cheltenham return

Indefatigable is on course to return to the scene of her finest hour with an outing in the Close Brothers’ Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The seven-year-old gave her trainer Paul Webber his first Festival winner when coming late to claim the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles in March.

She tried three miles for the first time at Kempton last month when third in a Listed contest behind Bannixtown Glory. In hindsight, Webber wished their tactics had been more positive.

“It’s more than likely she’ll go to Cheltenham,” said the Banbury handler.

“She’s got a lot of weight, but there’s nothing else for her at the moment and she always runs well there so I think that is probably the best place to go.

“She ran fine at Kempton. We probably didn’t make enough use of her. It turned into a sprint.

“Because it was her first time over three miles we were probably a bit tentative and she ended up not having a hard race.”

Webber has stablemate House Island entered in the Jockey Club Cheltenham SW Syndicate Novices’ Chase on Saturday, but is leaning towards sending the horse to Doncaster on the same afternoon.

The bet365 December Novices’ Chase is over three miles, compared to an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham, but Webber has no concerns about the longer distance.

“He’s more likely to go to Doncaster than Cheltenham, I think at the moment,” said Webber.

“There are quite a few of them in both races, but I think Doncaster might be where we go.

“He ran well over further as a hurdler so hopefully he’s about ready for it now.”

House Island got off the mark over fences at the second attempt at Ludlow last month.

Webber favouring Lingfield option for Indefatigable return

Indefatigable is likely to return to action on the Flat ahead of a jumps campaign, for which the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham is the ultimate objective.

Trainer Paul Webber is set declare the seven-year-old for the Ladbrokes Football Acca Booster EBF River Eden Fillies’ Stakes, a Listed contest over one mile and five furlongs on the Polytrack.

She also holds an entry in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday, but Webber fears the ground will be too soft for Indefatigable on what would be her first try at three miles.

The mare is already a dual Listed winner over the smaller obstacles and claimed the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at last season’s Festival over an extended two and a half miles.

She has yet to run on the Flat, although she did win a bumper at Southwell on her first start for Webber in April 2018 before she went hurdling.

“The thinking at the moment is we are worried about the forecast for Wetherby,” said the Banbury handler.

“I think we’ll probably go to Lingfield rather than go three miles for the first time on ground softer than is ideal for her.

“We’ll probably declare her for Lingfield and Jim Crowley has been booked to ride her.

“I think that’s what we’ll do because she certainly wants better ground. Her only disappointing run last year was at Sandown on heavy ground and I think we’ll try to avoid that for as long as we can.”

Webber had thought of giving Indefatigable her first taste of Flat racing at Royal Ascot, but had to scrap that plan as the mare was under the weather.

“We were going to run her in the Ascot Stakes, but she didn’t scope right before then, so she had a holiday and this is a suitable starting point,” he went on.

“The Stayers’ Hurdle will be the plan and she’ll be entered in the mares’ hurdle over two and a half as well. We’ll just have to see how things go, but she is better on better ground.

“I don’t want to pull her about first time out over further. There are some nice hurdle races coming up in three weeks’ time if she has a nice prep at Lingfield.”