Leading Irish Novice Chasers Dreaming of Cheltenham Success at The Open 03/11/10
Galway handler Paul Gilligan is looking forward to seeing his stable star Berties Dream return to the scene of his greatest success when he lines up in the Ultima Frontrunner In IT Solutions Novices’ Chase (1.15pm) over an extended three miles at The Open at Cheltenham on Saturday, November 13.
The seven-year-old was third behind Tell Massini and Reve De Sivola in the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at The Open 12 months ago but returned to Cheltenham in March to record a comprehensive six-length victory in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at The Festival.
He made a pleasing debut over fences when coming home fourth in a competitive beginners’ chase over two and three-quarter miles at Galway on October 25.
Gilligan revealed: “Berties Dream is heading for the Ultima Frontrunner In IT Solutions Novices’ Chase at The Open. He has come out of his run at Galway very well and he has improved a bit in terms of fitness since then.
“It looks like the beginners’ chases in Ireland are a lot more competitive than in Britain. Many of the British-trained horses are making their debuts in races of four or five runners, whereas it’s tough going over here.
“I was more than happy with him last season. I fancied him for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, or at least to be in the first three or four, so it wasn’t a real surprise for me when he won.
“He has been schooling brilliantly and I think he has always looked more like a chaser than a hurdler.
“It’s early days but his ultimate target will be the RSA Chase at The Festival next March. We gave him a mid-winter break last season because he was kept busy throughout the summer, but he hasn’t raced at all through this summer and we will look to campaign him throughout the winter.”
Berties Dream may be joined in the Ultima Frontrunner In IT Solutions Novices’ Chase by his Galway conqueror Jessies Dream, who made an excellent debut for new owner David Johnson when posting a three-length verdict over Corskeagh Royale.
The well-regarded seven-year-old is trained by Gordon Elliott, who wore Johnson’s famous silks when partnering Iris Bleu to victory in the Irish Times Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase at The Open in November, 2002.
Elliott commented: “There is a chance that we might bring Jessies Dream over for The Open. We are thinking about the Ultima Frontrunner In IT Solutions Novices’ Chase or he could alternatively go to Fairyhouse for the Drinmore Novice Chase later in the month. I will have to chat with David Johnson later this week before making any final decision.
“We were very pleased with his win at Galway and he was about 75% fit that day, so hopefully he can go on to bigger and better things.
“He will have no problem with the step up to three miles and, please God, he could definitely be a horse for the RSA Chase next March.”
Saturday’s excellent six-race card, as well as featuring the extended two and a half-mile £150,000 BetVictor Gold Cup, includes the £50,000 Grade Three Morson Group Handicap Chase (1.50pm) over an extended three miles and three furlongs.
The Open commences on Friday, November 12, with six enthralling races, among them the £25,000 Grade Two Cheltenham Collection Sharp Novices’ Hurdle (1.50pm), the £40,000 Paddypower.com Handicap Chase (2.25pm), and the £25,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase (3.00pm) over Cheltenham’s unique cross country course.
The £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm) headlines a thrilling six-race Sunday card on November 14, alongside the £30,000 Grade Two The Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase (1.10pm), the £50,000 Sinbad Testimonial 2010/11 Chase (1.45pm) and the £25,000 Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (3.30pm).
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