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Next Destination comes out on top in Hampton test

Next Destination maintained his unbeaten record over fences with a tenacious success in the McCoy Contractors Civils And Infrastructure Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick.

Having made a winning chase debut in a Grade Two at Newbury in November, the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old added to that with victory at the same level in the three-mile contest.

Despite being the first off the bridle midway down the back straight, the 10-11 favourite responded well for pressure under Harry Cobden to take a slender advantage turning for home.

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As Golan Fortune dropped away on the run to the last, it was left to Fiddlerontheroof to thrown down a challenge, but the Colin Tizzard-trained runner old could not quite get on terms, with a length and a half separating the pair at the line.

Cobden said: “He is a little bit more relaxed now and when he has been asked he has jumped pretty well. He has jumped well on the whole.

“He is a bit older and is getting slightly lazier. I don’t mind pushing them for a bit if they keep finding and to be honest he plugged on really well. He swung into the straight and was the one to be shot at. He was long over two out and winged the last and stayed galloping.

“I think in a race where there are more runners you could run him third or fourth and it would be nice to have one to aim at with him. He looks like he stays very well and he has won here and at Newbury so the trip is not an issue.

“I’d say both were good races and he has come out and performed both times, so you have got to be pleased with him.”

Although Next Destination was made a 14-1 chance for what was known as the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival by William Hill and 12-1 for the same race by Coral, Cobden believes the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree could be a more suitable option.

He added: “I don’t known if he is an RSA horse. The three-mile race at Aintree might suit him. Paul might get him home tonight and think RSA it is, or say ‘right, we will take our time and go for Aintree’.

“One thing I do know is the be all and end all is not Cheltenham in Paul’s mind, so Aintree is on the cards.”

Golan Fortune seeking to book National ticket with big Warwick effort

Golan Fortune will attempt to enhance his Randox Health Grand National prospects by claiming victory in the McCoy Contractors Civils And Infrastructure Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick on Saturday.

The seven-year-old bids to resume his progression over fences in the three-mile Grade Two prize – and move a step closer to giving trainer Phil Middleton his first runner in the Aintree spectacular.

Having made a winning debut over fences at Ludlow last month, Golan Fortune out-ran his 40-1 price tag upped to Grade One level when finishing fourth in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Middleton said: “If he does run a big race I would like to go for the Grand National.

“He is off 142 at the moment and you need to be about 145 to get in, so hopefully the handicapper would put him up a few pounds if he goes well.

“He has won and finished in the first four of a race over three miles and this will be his third three-mile chase run, which qualifies him for the Grand National.

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“I had Exitas miss the cut a few years ago for the National and I might not get another chance for a runner in it, so I’d like to go for it.”

Middleton reports his stable star, who claimed Listed glory over hurdles at Cheltenham last season, to be in excellent order.

He said: “I was chuffed to bits at Kempton and he will be better for that. We go there full of hope.

“When you look at the ratings he has not got a lot to find with Next Destination and the horse he beat at Newbury (Kalooki) was behind us at Kempton, while Fiddlerontheroof has been second a good few times.

“Kielan Woods is full of hope, he popped him over a few obstacles this week and he jumped fantastic.”

Next Destination will attempt to maintain his unbeaten record over fences after making a winning debut over them at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)
Next Destination will attempt to maintain his unbeaten record over fences after making a winning debut over them at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Jockey Harry Cobden is confident dual Grade One-winning hurdler Next Destination will have no problem handling the testing conditions.

The nine-year-old secured his first victory since joining Paul Nicholls from Willie Mullins when making a winning debut over fences in a Grade Two at Newbury.

Cobden said: “It was his first time over fences last time and he jumped really well and travelled great. He did everything right.

“The ground was better at Newbury, but that shouldn’t make much of a difference at Warwick as he won on quite testing ground over in Ireland.

“I schooled him on Monday and he was fine. He seems great at the moment. He has lots of class for sure.”

Fiddlerontheroof will step up to three miles for the first time under rules (David Davies/PA)
Fiddlerontheroof will step up to three miles for the first time under rules (David Davies/PA)

Connections of the Colin Tizzard-trained Fiddlerontheroof expect the step up in trip to suit the seven-year-old, who has filled the runner-up spot on three of his four starts over fences this season.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “Stepping him up to three miles is something we have had on the back of our mind for some time, and he looks like he wants every yard of it.

“He has been consistent all season long, he has lost nothing in defeat – he has just come up against some decent horses.

“This looks the right race to run him in and I think Warwick will suit him as he is a very good jumper of his fences. He has just got to prove he gets the trip and if he does he will be right there.”

Warwick target for Next Destination

Next Destination will put his unbeaten record over fences on the line in the Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has earmarked the three-mile Grade Two prize on January 16 as the next target for the Malcolm Denmark-owned nine-year-old.

The former Willie Mullins-trained gelding made a winning debut over fences in the Grade Two John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury, having previously finished second on his first start for Nicholls in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby.

Nicholls said: “The plan is to run Next Destination in the Grade Two novice chase at Warwick later this month.

“It was a good start he made over fences at Newbury, but I didn’t want to take him to Kempton in the Kauto Star Boxing Day – I was conscious with the problems he has had of him switching from the grass to the bits of all-weather at Kempton.”

The 11-times champion trainer believes the dual Grade One-winning hurdler requires another run if he is make to the Cheltenham Festival and contest what was known as the RSA Novices’ Chase, for which he is as short as 10-1.

He added: “I’m keen to get one run into him before going for what was the RSA and timing-wise, Warwick works out well.

“He is fragile, but he has had a nice bit of time since his last run and he did a good piece of work the other morning.

“Hopefully he can keep on progressing.”

Destination delivers in Francome heat

Next Destination backed up the promise he showed on his comeback to make a winning debut over fences in the Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury.

A dual Grade One winner over hurdles for champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins in 2018, the eight-year-old was off for 920 days before finishing second to Roksana over hurdles at Wetherby on his first start for Paul Nicholls.

Graduating to the bigger obstacles, Next Destination showed he could have a bright future as he stayed on well to claim the Grade Two spoils.

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Kalooki made the running until the second-last fence where Harry Cobden delivered Next Destination to take the lead. The 11-8 favourite was challenged by One For The Team, but kept up the gallop to score by a length and a quarter.

Next Destination was cut to 12-1 from 20-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power for the race formerly known as the RSA Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

Nicholls said: “It is credit to the team and everyone at home to get him to the course really, as he has had two and half years off. He had severed a front tendon, broken a pelvis and Malcolm sent him to us in June and said ‘if you can get him on the course, it will be a fantastic effort’.

“He went to Wetherby and ran a lot better than we thought to be honest with you. We schooled him over fences and he jumped great and he did that really well. Slower ground will suit him a lot more than today, but it was just about OK today.

“He has got talent and if we can keep him sound, he is a very good horse. We hadn’t had a gallop away before then (Wetherby), so he was going to improve and fitness wise, he will just keep getting better.

“You’ve just got to mind him a fraction with what you do at home. He is a lovely horse. We have just got to space his runs out, look after him and you never know, he could come back here next year for the big one (Ladbrokes Trophy) as he would be the ideal horse for that.

“You would want to mind the ground and you wouldn’t want to run him that often. You could go to Kempton on Boxing Day if the ground was really soft. I’d be bit nervous with a horse like him that has had problems, as you have the grass and the sand there with the all-weather which is not ideal.

“Off the top of my head, the Reynoldstown at Ascot would suit him really well in soft ground. Just winning today, for the horse, everyone involved and the owner being patient, is a bonus as he has done very well.

“He could well be an RSA horse and he will have an entry, but I’d say he would want really nice, soft ground to go there. He does jump a little left handed, so it probably would suit him quite nicely. He would be up there in the mix with horses that can run in the race.”