Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle Trial
|Grade 2, Cheltenham 15:30
2m 150yds, Class 1
|Sunday 19th November 2017
1 Slate House 5/2
2 Summerville Boy 16/1
3 Better Getalong 7/1
5 ran Distances: ¾l, 3¾l, 3l
Time: 4m 7.40s (slow by 16.40s)
Slate House pulls out all the stops to deny Summerville Boy and give Colin Tizzard a double
Slate House & Harry Cobden (left) get the better of Summerville Boy and Adrian Heskin
Julian Herbert/PA Wire/PA Images
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
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."
Jockey Adrian Heskin was happy with the performance of Summerville Boy, who finished the three-quarter length runner-up for local trainer Tom George.
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."
Noel Fehily was pleased with the performance of the Nicky Richards-trained Better Getalong (7/1), who finished third.
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."
Skybet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle
(Registered As The Sharp Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 2)
£30,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 87y, Class 1
Going: Soft, Heavy in places
||Slate House (IRE) 5/2
|C L Tizzard
||Summerville Boy (IRE) 16/1
||A P Heskin
|T R George
||Better Getalong (IRE) 7/1
||N D Fehily
|N G Richards
||Dame De Compagnie (FR) 10/11f
||B J Geraghty
|N J Henderson