Pauling may supplement The Cob in Albert Bartlett

Ben Pauling will give serious consideration to supplementing The Cob for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival following his impressive victory at Doncaster.

The seven-year-old made a flying start to the current campaign with back-to-back wins at Uttoxeter and Haydock, but came up short in his hat-trick bid at Newbury over Christmas.

As a result, he was a 25-1 shot for his first start over three miles in Saturday’s Grade Two Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle – but ran out a dominant winner under Daryl Jacob to leave connections dreaming of Festival glory.

Pauling said: “I was delighted with him, and he seems in great form this morning.

“Was it a big shock? I think he was under-estimated at the prices, but I can’t say I expected him to win in that fashion.

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“The step up to three miles has obviously brought out the best in him – he’s handled the ground and he’s got a decent engine.”

Cheltenham has therefore entered the equation.

“It’s just over £4,500 to supplement him for the Albert Bartlett,” added Pauling.

The Cob was well on top in the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster
The Cob was well on top in the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster (Tim Goode/PA)

“We don’t have to supplement him until March 13, so we can train him up to that day – and if he’s in bang-on form then I think we will supplement him.

“I didn’t enter him originally because I probably thought he was 10lb short of being worthy of an entry. Over two and a half miles, he might have been, but going three miles has clearly made a big difference to him.

“I think he probably deserves to have a go at the Albert Bartlett now, particularly because it looks a very open race this year.”

More immediately, the Cotswolds trainer is eyeing big-race success with Shakem Up’Arry in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 13.

Runner-up to the brilliant Shishkin in a novice hurdle at the Berkshire circuit last season, the Harry Redknapp-trained seven-year-old was last seen chasing home Harry Fry’s Metier in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.

“There is a strong possibility he will go for the Betfair Hurdle if the ground stays like it is at the moment,” Pauling added.

“He is a big, raw horse that will want two and a half miles in time – but he has the gears for two miles, and we know he handles very soft ground very easily and he jumps beautifully.

“I think next season over a fence he is going to be something else – you don’t get many that jump as well as he does.

“He is just a very cool horse that I think is going to be a proper novice chaser.”

The Cob surprises River Don rivals

Ben Pauling won the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle as The Cob sprang a 25-1 surprise at Doncaster.

Bouncing back from a disappointing run at Newbury last time out, he showed stamina in abundance in the straight as all the fancied runners dropped away one by one.

Emir Sacree, a close relation to Sprinter Sacre, and Kim Bailey’s Bobhopeornohope helped force the pace, but by the top of the home straight, the pair were struggling.

Emma Lavelle’s Shang Tang cruised into contention with Exploiteur another still going well, but Daryl Jacob was sitting pretty on The Cob.

Portstorm stayed on to claim second at 50-1, some nine lengths away, with Castle Robin third.

Jacob said: “All credit to Ben and his team. With Cheltenham off, he switched me to this fella. He had no worries about the trip for him.

“He travelled through the race nicely and jumped nicely. It was probably my mistake three out. Other than that he’s won readily enough and pricked his ears after the last. Thankfully, he had race sewn up by then.

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“Ben just said to get a nice start. They went a nice, even gallop and with it being his first try at the trip, I didn’t want to be handy. I just lobbed away and got into a relaxed rhythm.

“On that ground, if you do too much you definitely won’t get home. I just wanted him to last and stay the trip, most importantly.”

The Late Legend (7-2 favourite) gave a bold front-running display in the hands of Sean Bowen to take the Sky Money Back As Cash Handicap Chase.

Tom Weston’s eight-year-old crossed the line half a length ahead of Special Acceptance and survived a stewards’ inquiry to win for the fifth time this season.

Bowen said: “He was a different horse today. He normally doesn’t travel that well and jump that well, but he was really enjoying himself.

“He’s always dossed in front and that’s what he did today, but he kept going where it mattered.”

Dorking Lad (13-2) returned to form when defying a big weight in the Visit Handicap Hurdle.

Tom Lacey’s six-year-old had disappointed on his last two starts, but was back to his best when collaring long-time leader, 150-1 shot Sayar, between the last two flights to score by two and a half lengths under 7lb claimer Jason Dixon.

“It was nice to get him back on track, having run so well over fences at Exeter, but then things went wrong at Huntingdon,” said Lacey.

“We gave him plenty of time to recover from that and this looked a lovely opportunity. It’s nice when it comes off.”

There was a sting in the tail for Dixon. He was banned for two days for using his whip without giving his mount time to respond after jumping the final hurdle.

Marshmallo (20-1) saw off the attentions of Billiams Legacy to open her account in the British EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

The Henry Daly-trained six-year-old stepped up on an encouraging debut effort to score by two lengths in the hands of former champion jockey Richard Johnson.

“The owners bred her as well so they will be delighted,” said Johnson.

“She’s obviously improved a bit from Warwick. To win on that ground is hard work so it showed she’s got a good attitude.

“I’m sure she’ll make into a nice staying hurdler in time.”