Stayers' set for Oscar performance
Colin Tizzard has revealed his intention is to target the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March with Finian's Oscar.
The six-year-old has so far this season been campaigned as a novice over fences but his trainer thinks he may lack a bit of bravery when it comes to jumping the larger obstacles following two recent defeats at Sandown and Ascot.
We're going to switch back to hurdles for the rest of the season.Colin Tizzard
The upcoming Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham will now be used as a potential stepping stone to the Stayers' at the Festival.
Finian's Oscar was a Grade One winner over timber last season as a novice at Aintree after he missed Cheltenham. He just missed out on a second top-level prize in a head-bobber behind Bacardys at Punchestown.
He can be backed at 666/1 to win the Stayers' Hurdle in March and, with that division lacking a superstar following a fatal injury to reigning champion Nichols Canyon, Tizzard is keen to have a go.
"We're going to switch back to hurdles for the rest of the season, with the aim being to run in the Stayers' Hurdle," said the trainer. "He jumps fences adequately, but I don't think he's that brave.
"If he doesn't nearly win the Cleeve we might go back to the RSA or JLT (in March) - and it might not hurt him to have a run over hurdles before returning to fences in any case - but the Cleeve and the Stayers' is our view and what will probably happen.
"I need to look after him. I don't want to run him in a big race over fences at Cheltenham when there's a possibility he could shake them up in the Stayers' Hurdle. On last season's hurdles form you'd have to think he could be a major contender as well."
Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle winner Sam Spinner is 7/2 to win the Stayers' Hurdle, while Yanworth, also being touted for a return to hurdling by trainer Alan King, is priced at 5/1 for the three-mile Festival event.
View all Horse Racing betting