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.
“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.
“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.”