Reveley sets up Tazbar gameplan

Keith Reveley plans to give Tazbar one more race before the RSA Chase at Cheltenham following a convincing success at Huntingdon.

The former smart staying hurdler made it two wins from three starts over the bigger obstacles, despite running over a trip short of his best and on unsuitable soft ground.

This 14-length win in the Bet totepool To Support Your Sport Novices' Chase saw him cut to 25-1 by totesport for the RSA Chase.

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Huntingdon had delayed their meeting for a day initially to escape the cold weather but it was the possibility of subsequent flooding that caused more danger and an official inspection in the morning.

Reveley has not been too seriously affected at his stables near the coast at Lingdale in Cleveland and the first opportunity for jump racing in a fortnight lured him down to Cambridgeshire.

Tazbar was returning to winning ways after finishing second to the exciting French import Long Run in the Feltham Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

"He coped very well. He just got a little bump early on and he just lost a bit of rhythm on the first circuit," said the Saltburn trainer. "Two good jumps down the back put the race to bed and it was a nice performance. We're very pleased and he's come back fine.

"We'll just carry on. I want to get plenty of experience into him as a novice. I'll see how he is and when he's bouncing he'll run again.

"He needed it. The Kempton run was very good. When you are running in the top-class races you have got to get experience and hopefully we'll have the chance to get a little more into him before the Festival."

Reveley's mother Mary was notoriously reluctant to send her horses to the Cheltenham Festival and although her son has been on record saying Tazbar may wait for Aintree or Punchestown, he is less circumspect.

Reveley said: "He'll certainly have an entry for Cheltenham and will hopefully have one more run before then but we will have to see what happens with the likes of Long Run and also what the weather is like.

"He didn't enjoy the ground today and is a good ground horse really. It is never going to be very quick at Cheltenham, it is normally on the easier side, but we'll see what happens.

"We wanted to get some more experience into him. He only ran three weeks ago so wasn't lacking fitness and he'll be better back over three miles."

The trainer and his son James were to complete a double courtesy of the impressive Kings Grey (2-1) in the bumper.

He added: "Kings Grey has shown us plenty. He's a real nice horse and is a good prospect for the future.

"He's bred to be a three-mile chaser – he already looks like one – so to go and win a bumper was brilliant."

Mark Johnston believes Awzaan has what it takes to be a serious contender for Classic honours this year.

Revealing the Alhaarth colt has not grown too much over the winter, the Middleham trainer is excited about the prospect of preparing Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's colt for the Stan James-sponsored 2000 Guineas.

Awzaan went into his winter quarters a 12-1 chance for the colts' Classic at Newmarket on May 1 after going through his juvenile career unbeaten in four starts, culminating with victories in the Mill Reef Stakes and the Middle Park Stakes.

"He's very, very good and didn't put a foot wrong as a two-year-old," said Johnston.

"He has grown a little bit over the winter, but not as much as we'd hope for.

"He's still a horse with all the right credentials and I see no issue in him staying an extra two furlongs.

"I haven't confirmed it yet with Sheikh Hamdan, but that (the 2000 Guineas) would be the obvious race for him."

Johnston has also mapped out a lofty programme for Canadian International runner-up Jukebox Jury, starting with the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan on March 27.

"The first aim is the Sheema Classic in Dubai, but he won't go until a week before the race," the trainer added.

"There's nothing for him at Group One level after until the middle of summer.

"We'll then look at Coronation at Epsom and then the King George (at Ascot), all being well."