GAVIN CROMWELL: Brand Ambassador Gavin Cromwell gives an update on Flooring Porter after his Leopardstown win, as well as previewing Gabynako’s chances in Sunday’s Grade 1 at Naas.
We had a great festive period with a number of horses running really well. The obvious highlight was Flooring Porter who won the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. He was absolutely brilliant, and to win a Grade 1 by six lengths was very satisfying. It was another step up, but he took it in his stride and all roads lead to the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March now. He likes going left-handed and it’s fantastic to have a leading contender for one of the championship races. He’s got a few options before that, but I’d say it’s more likely than not we’ll go straight there. He just keeps on improving and we’re very excited about the future, that’s for sure.
Darver Star ran an absolute cracker in the Grade 1 Novice Chase and had things gone a bit differently he could have easily won, so we were delighted with the run. He lost nothing in finishing second and he’ll run next at the Dublin Racing Festival at the start of February. We’ll give him entries in both the two and the two-and-a-half mile races and a decision on whether we step up in trip will be made much nearer the time.
Vanillier was another who we were really happy with. He was just touched off in the Grade 2 at Limerick, but again lost little in defeat. We really like him and he seems to be getting better with each and every run. He’s certainly one to keep an eye on. He’ll also head to the Dublin Racing Festival for the Grade 1 over 2m7f which looks a nice fit. We’ll see how gets on there, but the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham is very much on the agenda for later in the season.
Gabynako takes his chance in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (2.30pm) on Sunday. He ran a nice race when third the last day in a Grade 2 at Navan and this was the logical next step. He was a bit keen there which probably put paid to his chances and I’m hoping he can settle better this time. He’s got a bit to find on ratings, but he’s entitled to take his chance on what he’s done over hurdles so far.
Our other runner is Perceval Legallois in the closing bumper (4.00pm). He’s a lovely horse who we think plenty of, and we’re looking forward to starting him out. It’s the first four-year-old bumper of the year so it’s bound to be competitive and feature a number of likely types, but we’re very happy with our lad. We’ve booked Derek O’Connor to ride and the horse has impressed us a lot in his work so far. If he can transport that to the track on Sunday, we’d be hopeful of a big run.