Four runners, carrying the colours of two owners - Gary Moore will saddle a small but select team of horses next week at the Cheltenham Festival.
Undoubtedly the leading light is Goshen, the would-be winner of the Triumph Hurdle 12 months ago, who has the Champion Hurdle firmly in his sights.
The recent Kingwell Hurdle winner is reported in fine fettle ahead of his return to Prestbury Park.
“We couldn’t be happier with him, all his work so far has been very good,” Moore told Tote on Saturday.
“There is a bit of unfinished business with him at Cheltenham, but this is a whole different discipline and we just hope we can get it right this time.
The week prior to this year’s Festival had seen the ground dry up to be described as Good to Soft, but while he would prefer plenty cut in the ground, it doesn’t have to be too testing for Goshen, according to Moore
“The fact he had done all his running on very soft ground, was always a concern of mine until he ran in the Triumph, but then he did what he did there.
“I don’t know how much rain they had at Cheltenham last night [Friday] but we had a tremendous amount down here, so if they got anywhere near that sort of rain it can’t be anything but on the slow side which is fine.”
Looking at the race itself, Goshen may well have competition on the front end if Not So Sleepy were to take his chance. But should Hughie Morrison’s tearaway indeed line up, Moore isn’t keen to be engaged in a battle for the lead.
“We’ll leave that to Jamie, but we wouldn’t take him on. Then again he might not even start, which might be the best thing that could happen for us!”
Moore is keen to point out that while giving the pair of Epatante and Honeysuckle 7lbs will prove a stiff task, his stable star has more on his plate than simply the mares.
“It’s not just about beating those two, there are plenty of others in there that are no mugs. It’s a tough race and he’s got to prove that he’s up there with them.”
Also likely to carry the colours of Steven Packham at the Festival is recent Betfair Hurdle runner-up Fifty Ball.
“He ran a great race in the Betfair, and if he gets in the County Hurdle he will most likely go for that, but the only slight concern would be that the ground would be quick enough for him come Friday.
“We might have to go for the Supreme, but I’m not quite sure, we’ll look later on today,” his trainer told Tote.
New trip could suit Botox Has
The green and white of John Stone are the other colours that will be carried into battle by Moore’s team at Cheltenham this week.
Another crack at the Triumph for one of the Cisswood residents may have been on the cards had the trainer got his own way, but it looks as though Nassalam will line-up in the Boodles on day one of the Festival.
Twice an impressive winner at Fontwell, the chestnut was sent off favourite for the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, finishing a distant third to Adagio, before being beaten by Paul Nicholls’ Aintree-bound Monmiral.
For Moore, the heavier the ground the better for his talented juvenile, something that saw him come unstuck in Wales.
“In the Chepstow race I feel he got beat by a better horse on the day. When they go round Chepstow in 3:59, that’s not soft ground for me. I think if I took them on again on proper soft or heavy ground we might get a different result.
“The horse that beat him at Haydock, I wouldn’t be in a rush to have a go at him again, but he’s not in the Triumph anyway. So I would have been very keen to let him take his chance in the Triumph but the owners are keen to go for the Fred Winter, and they pay the wages.”
Also lining up in a Festival handicap for Stone and Moore is Botox Has, who was last seen plugging on well enough in sixth in a competitive Ascot event.
He heads to the Coral Cup on Thursday, and seems to have his trainer purring in anticipation as he faces his sternest test of stamina yet.
“He worked nicely this morning and we’re very happy with him.
“The track brings out the best in him, which it’ll need to, so hopefully he gets in and I think he goes there with a real live chance.
“We’ve been dying to step him up in trip, he’ll probably go three miles next time. He’s definitely been crying out to go further.”
If the 2m5f spin round the old course does as his trainer hopes, Botox Has could well end Gary Moore’s wait for a first Festival winner in seven years, that is, if any of his three stablemates hasn’t done that already.