Nick Bradley and Roger Fell are mostly associated with winners on the Flat, but they are planning an audacious raid on the Cheltenham Festival with ex-Dermot Weld inmate Coltor.
Fifth in the Boodles Fred Winter at Prestbury Park when trained by Weld in 2021, the dual-purpose six-year-old won four times for the legendary Irish handler while housed at Rosewell House, before switching the Curragh for North Yorkshire at a cost of 25,000 guineas last autumn.
A fact-finding mission on the Flat identified the son of Free Eagle requires further than the minimum two miles these days and the plan was hatched to target either the Coral Cup or Pertemps Final at the Festival next month.
Having qualified for the longer of the two races by finishing a close-up second at Musselburgh recently – with Rendlesham winner Wakool back in fourth – Bradley suggests the Pertemps could be the perfect spot for his rare jumps runner unless conditions dictate dropping back in distance.
“We took him for a spin at Kempton on the all-weather to learn a little bit and Tom Marquand rode him. He said there is no way in the world he is a two-mile hurdler,” explained the managing director of Nick Bradley Racing.
“If you look in Ireland they were using various types of headgear, which I’m not a fan of. So we took it all off, went back to basics over two miles on the Flat to get him from 85 per cent fit to 100 per cent fit, so we could go to Musselburgh for the Pertemps qualifier.
“My assistant is called Lewis Poskitt and he needs all the credit as he spotted the race. We were thinking Musselburgh or the Haydock race and obviously we qualified by finishing second anyway so didn’t need to run at Haydock.”
He went on: “That was a great run and he’s come out of the race fine and now he is being put away for a run in either the Pertemps or the Coral Cup. He will probably go for the Pertemps, but if it comes up soft or heavy then it would be Coral Cup.
“The horse who finished behind us at Musselburgh won the Rendlesham and I think we go there with a massive chance.”
It would not be the first time Bradley has enjoyed success at the Festival as he was the man responsible for purchasing Junior on behalf of Middleham Park Racing for £35,000 before he went on to strike at both Royal Ascot and then by a whopping 24-lengths in the Kim Muir while trained by David Pipe.
“Years ago I bought a horse called Junior who won at Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival,” continued Bradley.
“He had the widest winning margin at the Festival until Tiger Roll beat him the other year. He is one I’ve enjoyed success with before.”
Meanwhile, with the start of the Flat turf season just over a month away, Bradley and Fell are targeting Doncaster’s SBK Lincoln with another of their new recruits, Toshizou.
Formerly trained by Joseph O’Brien, he is a best price of 33-1 for the prestigious season-opening handicap and Bradley believes his odds offer real value judged on his best form in Ireland.
He added: “If you watch his two runs last year – the run at the start of the season was really good, he was just too far back. Then he was sent off favourite next time and I thought he ran fine that day but came back lame.
“We got him going early January and we’re on target for the Lincoln. At the moment he might need a little help to get in, but it’s a race that will cut up plenty.
“He will go and have his first away day in about 10 days and we don’t know levels of ability or anything like that at present, but based on the form of his first run in 2022, he was a very well-handicapped horse then and I told all the owners to back him at 40-1 for the Lincoln a few weeks ago. I don’t know what price he is now, but he was definitely the wrong price at 40-1.
“The horse has done everything right so far, but March will be the month we find out more.”