Bottler’secret enters Triumph reckoning after smart debut

By Sports Desk February 25, 2024

Bottler’secret may have earned himself a late call-up to Gavin Cromwell’s Cheltenham Festival squad after making a successful debut over obstacles in the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle at Naas.

Winner of two of his three starts on the Flat for Ciaran Murphy, the four-year-old was thrown straight into Grade Three company for his hurdling bow, albeit the race was rendered significantly less competitive after the unbeaten five-time winner Wodhooh was declared a non-runner.

In her absence, Bottler’secret was a 6-5 favourite to get the better of three rivals in the hands of Sean Flanagan and travelled sweetly for much of the way.

After being nudged into the slipstream of Wodhooh’s front-running stablemate Pacini early in the home straight, the Dragon Pulse gelding came back on the bridle on the run to the final flight before pulling 11 lengths clear on the run-in.

Paddy Power cut Bottler’secret to 12-1 from 20-1 in their non-runner money back market for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and while Cromwell admits pitching his inexperienced youngster in against this season’s top juveniles would be a big ask, he will consider letting him take his chance.

“He’s a nice horse. It might not have been the greatest renewal of a Grade Three but for his first day he jumped well. He was a little bit big and slow early on but the further he went, the better he got,” said Cromwell.

“It would have been nice if we’d got more experience into him. I thought we’re getting on in the year and we’d pitch him in at the deep end. If he didn’t win, he’d be a novice next year.

“He’s in the Triumph Hurdle, but I don’t know if he’ll go there. If he had a bit more experience he would, but it is what it is at this stage – I wouldn’t rule it out.

“There are plenty of options at Fairyhouse, Aintree and Punchestown.”

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