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19th October 2022 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Gary Moore believes the feature 888Sport Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on day two of The Showcase (Saturday 22nd October) represents a good starting point for Nassalam, who he reports has ironed out his jumping after schooling as “straight as a die” ahead of his seasonal return. 

The Grade One-winning trainer is considering running both the talented five year old Dream Well gelding and stablemate Editeur Du Gite, in the £60,000 two-mile contest if conditions remain suitable. 

Although Nassalam enjoyed a profitable first season over fences after winning three of his five starts, including a Grade Two contest at Newbury in November, his performances on several occasions were hindered by jumping out to his left. 

Having rectified his jumping issue at home Moore, hopes Nassalam can take his form to new heights this season starting with a potential outing this weekend ahead of a possible return to the track in December for a tilt at the Racing Post Gold Cup.

Moore said: “My slight concern is that the trip might be on the sharp side but it is a good starting point.

“I over-faced the horse first time out last season. I am not going to lie - I felt he did well first time out but it was too hard a race and he never really got over it.

“He did well to win the Grade Two at Newbury and then he got an unbelievable ride from Jamie when he won at Fontwell. To nick three races last season was great as he was not at his best after his first start. 

“He jumped badly to his left a lot last season but so far when we have schooled him this time around he has jumped as straight as a die. I certainly hope he can go on again this season. 

“He won over two and a half last season and he probably will get three miles but there is a big difference in trips. Something like the December Gold Cup could be a good target for him later on.”

Editeur Du Gite already has two course victories to his name, scoring at The November Meeting and The International in 2021. However Moore expects the eight year old, who was last sighted failing to finish on his Grade One debut in the Marsh Chase at Aintree in April, to come on for the outing. 

Moore said: “He loves the track but he has obviously had a fair hike since his last two wins there. The only thing I would say about him is that he does benefit for a run.

“As long as the ground is good he will run. He doesn’t mind that and he is better on better ground. 

“He did surprise me a little bit last season but he wears his heart on his sleeve and he always tries his best for you.

“He disappointed upped to Grade One level at Aintree but I think that might have been a step too far and he clearly wasn’t at his best that day. 

“I think a strong two miles and going left-handed is what he needs. I think he would get two and a half miles, if he didn’t have to have to contest the lead up front and he could set his own fractions.”

An outing in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle on Saturday remains in the balance for Grade One winner Porticello with Moore insisting that Sholokhov gelding, who finished sixth in last season’s JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival™, will only run if the ground is soft enough.

He said: “This looks a re-run of the Triumph Hurdle and this race is a good starting point for four year-olds. He ideally wants two and a half miles on soft ground.

“It needs to be soft ground for him to run so unless a lot of rain comes the chances are he is unlikely to run. 

“I thought he did really well last season for such a big horse. He has done really well over the summer and looks even bigger and stronger.

“Looking forward we will be going chasing with him but not this season. He does want stepping up in distance this season though. 

“He was the best of the English-trained horses home in the Triumph Hurdle and the ground was against him. He ran well in the race for a big immature horse that hadn’t come off the flat.”

While plans for Porticello remain up in the air Moore could still be represented in the two mile contest by Kotmask.

He added: “There is more chance of Kotmask running. His first two runs last season were quite promising. He battled hard to win the Chatteris Fen on the sharp track at Huntingdon.

“His last two runs weren’t as good but he was growing and was still quite immature. I’m very happy with his progress and if he doesn’t look too far out of his depth on the ratings he will run.

“I think the stiff finish at Cheltenham will suit him and I think he can go forward this season.”

Botox Has provided Moore with his most poignant success last season in the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in February under his son Josh, just months after he was knocked unconscious and required spinal surgery following a fall aboard the six year old at Plumpton in October.

Moore now hopes that Botox Has can build on that victory this season stepped back up to three miles in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle series qualifier.

He said: “It was a special win in the National Spirit with it coming just months after Josh had broken his back on him.

“He has run well over three miles at Cheltenham before and I hope he progresses into a nice staying hurdler this season but the proof will be in the pudding.

“He is only six so there should still be improvement to come.”


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