- The Jukebox Man was last seen in the Challow Hurdle on December 30
- Trainer Ben Pauling has opted to keep the horse fresh for festival next month
- Current crop of novices includes Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hope Tellherthename
Trainer Ben Pauling will send Harry Redknapp-owned the Jukebox Man straight to the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month as he shuffles his strongest ever hand of novice hurdlers.
The Jukebox Man was last seen in the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury on December 30, staying on resolutely to finish third behind Captain Teague.
And Pauling has opted to keep the horse fresh for the festival, saying: ‘I love the Challow, but it drags it out of them. It was a gruelling race and he will need every minute between then and the festival to be right.’
Barters Hill, the 2015 Challow winner, put Pauling on the map at the start of his training career, while his first festival winner was Willoughby Court in the 2017 Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle.
His current crop of novices includes Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hope Tellherthename, Fiercely Proud, two-lengths third to Jeriko Du Reponet at Doncaster on Saturday, unbeaten Handstands and Champagne Twist, who was a winner at Doncaster on Sunday.
Harry Redknapp (pictured with rugby legend Gareth Edwards) at Cheltenham on Saturday
Pauling added: ‘They are way above average. Tellherthename is our Supreme horse, probably via the Betfair Hurdle. In my view he is being overlooked. It was just when we chucked him into the Grade One Formby Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day he couldn’t go. Some people think in that grade he was outclassed, but I know it was ground.
‘I would love to have another crack at Jeriko Du Reponet with Fiercely Proud. He looked very green when we asked him to go and win the race.
‘I don’t think he will go to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, more likely Aintree.
‘Handstands probably has the most untapped potential. He has not definitely got to go to Cheltenham, but he has an entry in the Baring Bingham because I think he has a lot of ability.’