Halo still on chase trail

Wed 20 Oct 2010

Celestial Halo will be given another chance to get it right over fences after falling on his chasing debut at Exeter on Tuesday.

Paul Nicholls' 2009 Champion Hurdle runner-up looked sure to take high rank among novice chasers this season and all appeared to be going well on his introduction before he came down four fences from home.

Owner Andy Stewart said: "He's absolutely fine and Ruby said not to give up on him yet. Both he and Philip Hobbs' horse (Rougham) fell independently but as Ruby said, it's better to do it at Exeter than in the Arkle. We had a brief discussion and we were thinking about going two and a half miles over hurdles, but we've decided to stick to chasing for the moment."

Stewart went on: "He probably actually wants three miles over hurdles now and obviously we've already got Big Buck's going down that route, so we'll give chasing another go.

"He has an entry at Aintree this weekend but he won't be turning up there and the next time you'll see him will be in a small race to try to build his confidence up. We'll see what happens there and then make further plans."

Another interesting novice chaser Stewart has an interest in is Nicholls' Ghizao, who was beaten into second on his fencing bow at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Although he let down favourite-backers, Stewart, who owns the gelding in partnership with David Johnson, expects significant improvement and a return to Prestbury Park on November 14 is next on his agenda.

"We were delighted with his run and he'll now go back to Cheltenham for the race I won last year with Tataniano (Independent Newspaper Novices' Chase)," the owner continued.

"He'd had a wind operation and I would challenge anyone to show me a horse of Paul Nicholls' that has won first time out having had their wind done seven weeks earlier."

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