Festival options on hold for Huntsman Son and Hales

Edgcote trainer Alex Hales
Edgcote trainer Alex Hales

Edgcote trainer Alex Hales admits he may be forced to consider alternative options for Huntsman Son.

The eight-year-old came second in Saturday’s Steel Plate & Sections Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.

It means on recent evidence we won’t get into the Coral Cup and we will be sweating on the Martin Pipe race

Edgcote trainer Alex Hales

Hales still hopes to run Huntsman Son at the Cheltenham Festival but realises the Coral Cup might prove out of reach although getting into the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle could still be possible.

The Trafford Bridge handler said: “The plan was for Huntsman Son to win on Saturday and go up 4lbs or 5lbs so we would get into the Coral Cup. I seriously thought he would do the job.

“However, we have just gone up 2lbs on to a mark of 135. It means on recent evidence we won’t get into the Coral Cup and we will be sweating on the Martin Pipe race.”

Hales maintained his good run at Lingfield on Tuesday where Ceara Be obliged.

The five-year-old won the second division of the EBF Mares Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race, ridden by Kielan Woods. That took the Trafford Bridge handler on to nine winners.

Hales’ in-form yard could strike again with Florrie Knox at Wetherby on Saturday.

Fellow Edgcote trainer Ben Case sent out Princess Roxy to win the directlinegroupcareers.com British EBF Mares Standard National Hunt Flat Race at Doncaster.

She could either next tackle the listed mares bumper at Sandown Park in March or head to Aintree in April.

The contest developed from an early dawdle but jockey Kielan Woods took the initiative and made the running. Despite being headed in the race, she regained the advantage three furlongs from home to score by a length and a quarter from Darling Du Large from the Tom George stable.

The Wardington Gate Farm handler said: “We bought her in April last year.

“She was due to run before Christmas but cut herself and had to have five stitches across the back of a leg which meant spending a month in her box.

“She is a nice mare which wouldn’t want very soft ground. She is an exciting addition to the yard and will be aimed at another bumper in around three or four weeks time.”