Gardner’s Blimey over obstacles
Coeur Blimey sets out on what connections hope will be the road to the Cheltenham Festival as he makes his seasonal bow in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Sandown on Friday.
Coeur Blimey in winning form under Lucy Gardner at Ascot last season.
The five-year-old grabbed the headlines when beating Ballyandy in a Listed Ascot bumper last December but could not follow up on that performance, finishing down the field at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals.
Sue Gardner's five-year-old switches to hurdles and will also be tackling a trip in excess of two miles for the first time, but rider Lucy Gardner believes neither factor should prove an issue.
She said: "He's the best horse we've ever had by a long, long way but now he's got to do it in public and do his talking on the track.
"He's done very well at home and since we brought him back from Ireland we have done a lot of schooling with him.
"We've talked about it (Cheltenham Festival). I hope, and think, he is up to that class.
"We'll wait for the spring and see how he is, but we are thinking the two-mile-five (Neptune) might be the race for him, but if it's very wet he could go for the two-mile novice race (Supreme).
"He's just a lovely horse and I'm his number one fan."
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Coeur Blimey will cross swords once again with Ballyandy, who went on to claim the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham before disappointing slightly in the equivalent at Aintree last spring.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge will be having his third hurdles outing and steps up in trip to two miles and three furlongs after finishing third behind Moon Racer at Cheltenham last time.
Twiston-Davies said: "The step up in trip looks like it will suit as he stays well.
"It was a messy race at Cheltenham last time, we'll just forget that.
"Everything has been fine with him since and we're looking forward to it, Jamie (Bargary, jockey) especially."
Apasionado is another who will be trying the longer trip this time and is seeking a fourth win on the bounce following victories at Market Rasen, Uttoxeter and Huntingdon.
The form of that last win has been boosted by the placed horses in recent days and trainer Stuart Edmunds is keen to see how the five-year-old fares in better company.
He said: "It's a step up in trip and class but we think he's a nice horse, although there are some other nice horses in there.
"I think he will stay the trip. I didn't want to run him under a double penalty in a novice, so it's a case of where do you go?
"The form of his last run has worked out well. The second (Lisheen Prince) won on Wednesday and the third (River Frost) won on Monday, but it is only novice form.
"We think he's a nice horse and we will see how good he is."
Seven runners go to post for the event better known as the Winter Novices' Hurdle, with Nicky Henderson's Cultivator and the Alan King-trained Messire Des Obeaux last-time-out winners.
Dan Skelton's Aintree My Dream appears to be another leading player, with the Phil York-trained Kabanga Bay rounding out the field.
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