Broughton straight to Cheltenham
Monday 3 February 2014
John Ferguson's runaway Musselburgh winner Broughton is likely to head straight for the Cheltenham Festival, with the Triumph Hurdle as his main target, although the Supreme Novices' Hurdle has not been ruled out.
The four-year-old won three times on the level for Mark Johnston in 2013, including a triumph at Glorious Goodwood, and ran a race full of promise when narrowly beaten by Fox Norton on his jumping debut in the Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster.
He comfortably went one better in Sunday's Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial, and Ferguson is looking forward to seeing his youngster test his powers at Prestbury Park.
The trainer said: "He's a nice horse who has come along quietly through the winter. He'd been pleasing us at home and I was very pleased with him on Sunday. His Doncaster run was obviously a very good performance for his hurdling debut and it was nice to see he learnt from it, as his jumping was much slicker at Musselburgh.
"If he can continue to improve, hopefully he can be competitive at a higher level and Cheltenham would be the idea at the moment."
While the JCB-sponsored Triumph Hurdle is Broughton's number one target, Ferguson revealed the Sky Bet-backed Supreme, where he would meet older horses, would be considered as an alternative if ground conditions are in his favour.
"I don't think I need to run him again between now and Cheltenham and the Triumph Hurdle is his main target, but I've also put him in the Supreme," said Ferguson.
"The thinking behind that is I think he will thrive on good ground and if come Cheltenham week it was good ground on the Tuesday and it looked like it was going to rain for the next three days, I might be tempted to let him run in the Supreme."
Broughton is one of a huge number of Ferguson entries at the Festival, with the trainer keen to cover all bases.
He said: "A lot of the horses need to have another run, but with the entries coming out we had to put them in. I don't regret any of the entries I've made at this stage."
One of the forgotten horses in the novice division is Sea Lord, who won six races in succession between May and October last year, before being slammed by The Liquidator at Cheltenham in November. Ferguson feels his charge has benefited from a break and could yet come into the Festival reckoning.
"Sea Lord is in good form and if the ground is right the plan would be to run him in the Dovecote (Novices' Hurdle) at Kempton on February 22. We'll decide after that whether he'll go to Cheltenham," said the trainer.
"His last run at Cheltenham wasn't as good as some of his earlier runs, but he'd been on the go a while and the ground probably wasn't ideal. The winner won very well, but we still finished a long way ahead of Lac Fontana, who won at Cheltenham's last meeting, so it was not all bad."