Somerset trainer Stuart Payne is hopeful of a good show from Hadmeathello when the gelding becomes his first Cheltenham runner tomorrow.
The eight-year-old, who will be ridden by Payne’s partner Chloe Emsley, is one of 11 horses who are set to line up in the intermediate hunters’ chase (5.35), sponsored by Racing TV, and part of a seven-race hunters’ chase card.
Payne says: “We’re looking forward to it. Hadmeathello ran very well when winning at Dingley [pictured above] on his first start since we bought him, and the second, Bingo Star, has since won by 12 lengths at Garthorpe. I was very happy when I saw that result.
“Since Dingley we’ve just been ticking along with him, although I do think he’s improved for the run. He had been off for 400 days, and while he was ready for his race it can only have tightened him up a bit.”
Hadmeathello (no7) jumps to the front at Dingley on Easter Monday (Nico Morgan)
Payne, who rents stables from the Newman family near Crewkerne, says: “It’s a tough enough race, and you have to fear Tom Ellis’s horse Benefaktor, while Captain McGinley was second in the race a couple of years ago behind Latenightpass, but it’s not a hunters’ chase with a lot of 140-rated ex-National Hunt horses. I’m pretty sure the going will be good, which should be fine for our horse.
“I think he’s got an each-way chance – whether he copes with the hill we don’t know, but I don’t see why he shouldn’t.
Stuart Payne, who will saddle his first Cheltenham Racecourse runner on Friday night
“I’ve never had a runner at Cheltenham in my own name, and sadly I didn’t ride there when I was riding in point-to-points a few years ago. It will also be Chloe’s debut, although she’s riding one for Ben Clarke [Creative Inerta] in the first race.
“Chloe’s enjoying a good season with four point-to-point winners, the same as Alice Stevens and one behind Izzie Marshall in the women’s championship. To finish second to Gina Andrews would be nice for any of those riders.”