Black Op "great and ready to go" for eagerly awaited chasing bow at Exeter

Tue 13 Nov 2018

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Tom George is looking forward to unleashing Grade One-winning hurdler Black Op over fences in the RGB Building Supplies Beginners’ Chase at Exeter on Wednesday.

The seven-year-old, who is the general 8-1 favourite for next year’s JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, will face nine rivals in the two-and-a-quarter-mile contest.

After finishing second in the Ballymore at Cheltenham in March, the Roger Brookhouse-owned gelding went one better on his final start last season by claiming victory at the top level in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

George said: “He is great and is ready to go. He schooled on grass on Monday, and Noel Fehily came in to ride him, and he jumped well. There is a long winter ahead of us, but it is a good place to start off. He has had a clean run since he has come in.

“He is the same as he always was in that he is a very laid-back horse, but he wakes up at the races when he needs to. Two and a half is probably his ideal trip, but this is a good starting point. It is a good track to start them on, and we will see where we are with him after that.”

He earlier told Racing UK: "He’s an enormous, big-striding horse and chasing was always going to be the right move for him this season.

"Last season he kept on improving. He ran unbelievably well at Cheltenham, when not beaten far behind Samcro, and what I loved about (hiw in at) Aintree is that he really showed some determination, which we probably had not had to see up until then. He showed what a man he is – a tough horse as well as a talented one.

"He’s been brought along very slowly. In his first season he only ran in a couple of bumpers, and last season he didn’t do too much either, even though he went to the big festivals.

"He has an unbelievably high cruising speed. You could have run in the Supreme Nocvices’ last season, but he will get three miles as well. Hopefully in the top races, whatever the trip, he won’t be out of his comfort zone."

Lining up in opposition once again will be the Ben Pauling-trained Kildisart, who finished down the field when the pair last met at the Merseyside track in April.

Pauling said: “It’s a hell of race to start off in. It took him a run to get fit last year, and he might just need it again.

“The ground is fine, so we have decided to let him take his chance – and he is certainly a novice chaser we are looking forward to seeing. He has been brilliant schooling.

“He didn’t turn up at Aintree on his final start, it was just a case of one run too many, so a line can be put through that.”

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