Ben Pauling plots Aintree raid with Your Darling

Monday 3 February 2020 10:07, UK

Trainer Ben Pauling at Bangor-On-Dee Racecourse
Image: Trainer Ben Pauling

Your Darling will head straight for the Grand National meeting at Aintree following his sparkling debut at Newbury.

Former leading trainer Henrietta Knight bought the five-year-old on behalf of owner Lord Vestey, and did not hold back in her praise following his bumper success, proclaiming: "This is as good a horse as Best Mate - I think he could be top class."

Sky Bet make Your Darling a 14-1 shot for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper - but Pauling has confirmed he will sidestep the Cheltenham Festival and instead run in the equivalent event at Aintree the following month.

Pauling said: "He goes straight to Aintree. He's absolutely A1, but we don't feel he needs any more experience as he was very straightforward at Newbury and we've been delighted with him since.

"We want to look after him for next season. His jumping is exceptional and we don't want to give him an overly hard time before he goes novice hurdling next season.

"He's an exciting horse and we're delighted to have him."

While Your Darling will not be part of Pauling's Cheltenham Festival squad, the Bourton-on-the-Water-based trainer is still expecting to be represented at the showpiece meeting.

One horse for whom Pauling holds particularly high hopes is Global Citizen, who is bound for the Arkle Trophy following his Grade Two success in the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton

He added: "Global Citizen is going straight to the Arkle and I promise you, he is a completely different horse to what he was at this stage last season.

"This time last season he'd had a few hard races and was tired before he ran in the Champion Hurdle. This year it will be very exciting to go to Cheltenham with a very fresh horse who is in great form.

"We're delighted with him at the moment, so hopefully it stays that way between now and March."

Bright Forecast has not been seen in competitive action since finishing third in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at last year's Festival, but is reported to be recovering well from injury.

Whether he takes up his entry in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham remains to be seen, with Pauling very much focusing on a career over fences next season.

"He's still tipping away and it's a case of so far, so good," said the trainer.

"We'll take it day by day. It's all about next season with him and going novice chasing, but if we can get a run or two in before the end of the season, then great."

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