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Colonel Mustard is set to run in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next week, instead of lining-up in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, according to trainer Lorna Fowler.

The seven-year-old has put up some great performances behind plenty of star names this season, including a runner-up effort to Jonbon in the Kennel Gate at Ascot and a third-place finish to Sir Gerhard at the Dublin Racing Festival most recently.

Fowler said, "The plan is to go for the County Hurdle with Colonel Mustard. I think he's got a fair mark and with lots of quality in the other races, I think this is his best opportunity at the Festival.

"You've always got to keep your options open with these kind of things, which is why we had him entered in four races. I had been targeting the Supreme all season with him and that was still the plan after he was second to Jonbon at Ascot, but then you just started to see more and more top quality horses be aimed at that race.

"The Supreme and the Ballymore might cut up a little bit, but there will still be lots of quality in those races and then the Coral Cup didn't have quite the same appeal as the County does, so that's where we'll be aiming. Although we'll still have a look at the Supreme closer to the day. "

Second to Echoes In Rain in the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last season, the son of Makfi has been handed a rating of 140 by the British handicapper which means he'll carry a competitive weight of exactly 11 stone.

Fowler said, "It's not even that previous winners have won off marks like that, it's more that I think it is a good mark for him. To get the same mark in England as he does in Ireland, gives him a great chance. It's been left unaltered since his last run at Punchestown where he was third to Sir Gerhard.

"I think in time, he'll get a staying trip so on that course and the 2m 1f up the hill in the County will just put that added emphasis on stamina, so as long as the ground doesn't go too soft, it should suit him. My only concern is that he's not had the experience of a big-field handicap and the hussle and bussle that normally comes with that.

Colonel Mustard, who has now won two of his nine starts, but has only been outside the top three on one occasion, will allow Fowler to not only saddle her first runner at the Cheltenham Festival, but also her first runner at Cheltenham all together.

"I once rode a winner for Henry Cecil in a charity race at Cheltenham, but absolutely, its going to be great to have my first runner there. It's incredible to be involved with any winner there, but I've always believed that you shouldn't head to Cheltenham unless you think you've got a chance, so hopefully we've got that with Colonel Mustard.

"We'll have to wait and see whether or not we then go to Aintree. Obviously Belfast Banter, winner of the County Hurdle went there and won last year, and there is a nice three-week break in between but travelling over to the UK and back twice, might not be ideal. We'll see how he goes at Cheltenham first. "

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