Nicky Martin is hopeful that Bear Ghylls can give a good account of himself when he makes his chasing debut in the red hot-looking Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on Sunday (30th October).
The seven year old missed the entirety of last season through injury but enjoyed a campaign to remember as a novice hurdler in 2020/21, recording three straight wins before finishing a creditable fourth behind Bob Olinger in the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Sunday’s Listed contest looks set to be a hot one and includes no less than a Grade Two winner in Minella Drama and a Cheltenham Festival winner in Corach Rambler amongst the eight-strong list of entries.
All but one of the remainder of the line-up for the two and a half mile contest will arrive with at least some experience over fences under their belt. Martin is hoping that her stable star can give a good account of himself on his first start over the larger obstacles - despite the fact he was often less than fluent with his jumping over hurdles.
Somerset-based Martin said: “The horse is fit and well. He is schooling really well but he always did over hurdles at home! Fingers crossed, he is a bit more intelligent this time. He is in really good order.
“There are a lot of experienced horses in the field and it’s going to be a big ask but we have to start him somewhere and there are a limited amount of two and a half mile novices’ races available – so that’s where I’m going to start.
“Running against horses with experience is probably a good thing to be honest as at least they can give him a lead and a bit of education.
“I’ve never been to Carlisle but everybody tells me that it’s the perfect place to take a novice. I haven’t seen the updates on the ground just yet, but provided it’s Good To Soft or softer, that’s where he’ll go.
“To be honest, I don’t think that year off has done him any harm at all because he was very weak. He was such a big horse and he has definitely filled out a lot.”
Another horse who seems likely to line-up is the Grade One-winning novice Millers Bank, who was successful in last season’s SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase at the Randox Grand National Festival at Aintree.
Alex Hales’ charge didn’t make it past the first fence on his seasonal reappearance in last Sunday’s Grade Two Jewson St Helens Old Roan Chase on Merseyside, but his trainer revealed that he is none the worse for that outing.
Hales said: “I think we’ll head there but it’s not cast in stone, because he ran at Aintree on Sunday. Our whole plan is to go to the Peterborough Chase and I need to get a run into him before then. Kielan Woods was in this morning and he schooled very well, so if he’s eating up and we’re happy we’re very keen to run.
“He seems absolutely fine absolutely fine after Aintree and it was a massive bonus that he was caught fairly early after unseating.
“He was fantastic at Aintree in the spring and it all came right on the day, so it was lovely. We had a few hiccups but on the day it really mattered it all came together. He’s a homebred so he means a great deal to us all at the yard.
“It would be nice to pick up another big win but he’s up against the big boys now, so he’s going to have to step up a grade to match these top-class chasers. The plan is to go for the Peterborough Chase and wind our way back to Aintree in April.”