TIZZARD SEES A THING OF BEAUTY IN SLATE HOUSE
Slate House is becoming another elite member of trainer Colin Tizzard's strong crop of current horses, as he proved when landing the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle.
If Tizzard is feeling the pressure of his enviable position, he did not show it during an interview with Oli Bell of ITV Racing, pausing to take a phone call and quipping live on air: "I'll do an Aidan O'Brien now."
Yet five-year-old Slate House, a former Irish point-to-point winner who joined Tizzard after being bought for £260,000 at a Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham Sale during The Festival in March, is now a prospect for victory in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle next March.
Tizzard, who today saddled a 6.3/1 double initiated by Fox Norton in the Shloer Chase, said of the 5/2 winner: "He's not a world beater yet - we've got to keep the lid on it a little longer, but he's a lovely, young horse and he's done nothing wrong. He could be a two-miler, he could be a three-miler, we just don't know. What we do know now is he's not ground dependent.
"Today he looked like he stayed on, so a fast-run two miles might suit him. He did pull a bit, so I might stick him in a three-miler to see if he will relax. We'd like to think he could be good, but he's a gorgeous looking horse and we'll have to mind him. He's got a long way to go, but he's got size, he's a beautiful creature, and he's won his last three races.
"The one thing going into today's race that was a concern is that he's by [the stallion] Presenting, so we wondered if he would handle the going, but he was good on it so we don't have to raise that issue again."
Despite winning a three-mile Irish point-to-point, Tizzard says that is no guarantee that Slate House will relish that trip at this higher level. He said: "We used to train a pointer called Qualitair Memory, and he won 14 point-to-points, but he could not win under Rules until we dropped him back to two miles. Just because he won points that only proved he was a classier horse than his rivals, not that he stayed three miles. It's all about pace. If this horse has pace we don't need to go up in trip, but we might in time."
SLATE GIVES IN-FORM COBDEN ANOTHER BIG WIN
Slate House won the Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle by making most of the running under Harry Cobden.
The Presenting five-year-old, who is trained by Colin Tizzard, won by three-quarters of a length from Summerville Boy at odds of 5/2.
Cobden said: "It was a messy race. They took two hurdles out in the straight [because of low sun] before we started, and we sort of crawled towards the stands the first time, and there was no gallop on. I thought, 'This lad's a three-mile point-to-pointer', so rather than wrestle him I let him bowl on and do it himself, which wasn't really what I had had in my head, but he bowled away lovely, winged the last and we turned in and there were flags and whistles as we bypassed the [dolled off] hurdles.
"For a horse only having his second run on a proper racetrack, it was a little bit for him to think about it, and he idled a bit in front. He's quite a sensitive horse and it wasn't ideal when I was trying to get him going forward. But when one came to him he picked up nicely. He's a nice horse.
"I'd say he's a very smart horse. I don't know how far he's going to go, but he's won a Grade Two and I'd say he's won it comfortably. He'll probably end up wanting three miles and fences one day, but he's a lovely prospect."
HESKIN LOOKS TO THE FUTURE WITH SUMMERVILLE
Jockey Adrian Heskin was happy with the performance of Summerville Boy, who finished the three-quarter length runner-up behind Slate House for local trainer Tom George in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The 16/1 shot travelled well through the soft ground and moved into second place as the field turned for home with no hurdles left to jump, after the two hurdles in the home straight had been taken out before the race due to low sun.
The five-year-old battled well up the hill and couldn't quite get to the winner but his jockey was perfectly happy with the way the race panned out.
"It was a nice run," said Heskin.
"The most important thing today was to get him to settle and he's done that nicely.
"We'll be able to do more work with him from now on. He was a bumper winner on soft so today's going was fine for him."
GETALONG WILL ONLY GET BETTER
Noel Fehily was pleased with the performance of the Nicky Richards-trained Better Getalong (7/1), who finished third to Colin Tizzard's Slate House (5/2) in the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle.
The two hurdles in the home straight were omitted due to the low sun, but the six-year-old son of Gold Well kept on nicely as Slate House held off Summerville Boy (16/1) by three-quarters of a length, with a further three and three-quarter lengths back to Richards' charge in third.
"He ran very well. The hurdles' issue was the same for everyone, but I thought he ran a good race.
"He is still a fairly immature horse, but I thought this was a good level of form for his first run at Cheltenham.
"He won well on his first start of the season at Ayr and that was another good run here today."
3.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)
1 SLATE HOUSE (Eric Jones, Geoff Nicholas, John Romans) Colin Tizzard 5-11-00 Harry Cobden 5/2
2 Summerville Boy (Roger Brookhouse) Tom George 5-11-00 Adrian Heskin 16/1
3 Better Getalong (David Wesley Yates) Nicky Richards 6-11-00 Noel Fehily 7/1
10/11 Fav Dame De Compagnie
Distances: ¾, 3¾
Tote Win: £3.20 Places:£1.60, £4.40 Exacta:£23.00
To view a replay of the race, please click here -