Challow Hurdle may be next up for Minella Missile

By Sports Desk November 23, 2023

Evan Williams classes the Coral Challow Hurdle as the obvious next port of call for Minella Missile but is keen to see what others have in the locker before firming up plans for his exciting Cheltenham winner.

An impressive scorer at Chepstow on his rules debut, he immediately took the step into Grade Two company at Prestbury Park during the November Meeting, where he kept on gamely to claim the scalp of Paul Nicholls’ highly-touted Persian War winner Captain Teague.

Having shown he handles undulating tracks, the Welsh handler is refusing to rule out a return to Cheltenham for the talented five-year-old, with Sandown’s Betfair Winter Novices’ Hurdle (December 8) another enticing option.

However, if Minella Missile is to avoid the burden of a penalty, then a move up to Grade One level is in order, which brings Newbury at the end of December into the reckoning.

Williams said: “Going forward, we will be guided by the horse really. It will be very interesting to see how he comes out of that race and we will be guided by him on where we will go from there really.

“The obvious thing, and it’s not as easy as that, but the obvious thing is to avoid carrying a penalty – and the only way to avoid carrying a penalty is in the Newbury race.

“Against that, he does go well around Cheltenham and Chepstow, which are undulating tracks and completely different to Newbury.”

The trainer went on: “Cheltenham has so many of those trials, there is an Albert Bartlett trial at the December meeting, or you could go to Sandown for the Winter Novices’ Hurdle, which is two-and-a-half miles and a Grade Two.

“So, I don’t want to be fixated on going to Newbury, but the Newbury race would seem the obvious next target if we had a target.

“The coming weeks will tell us. We are where we are now, but there will be plenty of others that will come out in the next weeks which will be of a very high quality – plenty of stables are yet to run their good novice hurdlers.

“I guess that is part of the fun of it and part of the jigsaw, and we’ll watch what comes out closely and then we can take a view and go from there.”

Minella Missile could become one of the leading players for Williams this season, as he searches for candidates to fill the position of stable star vacated by the now retired Coole Cody.

The strapping bay has already provided his handler with one memorable day, supplying loyal owner Janet Davies with her 100th winner when successful at Cheltenham.

Williams added: “He improved a lot in a very quick time after Chepstow, we were caught out a little bit by him and we were very lucky there was that race at Cheltenham, because the race at Chepstow brought him on significantly.

“It was lovely and it was lovely to get the 100th winner up for Mrs Davies in such a good race

“It’s fantastic; a lot of our nice horses have finished, for whatever reason, and we were a bit light on having a very nice horse, but as is often the case in this old game, things can surprise you in both a positive and a negative way.”

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