sport

Hot Cole has Cheltenham goal

Cole Harden is set for a slight step up in grade following his comfortable victory at Newbury last week.

The five-year-old was an eight-length winner of a competitive novice event at the Berkshire venue, accounting for the well-regarded Full Shift and favourite Brother Brian with the minimum of fuss.

A date at the Cheltenham Festival could be on the agenda, but trainer Warren Greatrex has identified the Listed Exeter Novices' Hurdle on February 9 at the Devon track as a possible stepping stone.

He also has the option of running Cole Harden in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Ascot on February 15.

Greatrex said: "He's won four of his five starts now and I'm not going to lie, it was a surprise he did it so well last week.

"He's just been tipping away and I thought he would be competitive, but the way he won was unexpected and a very nice surprise.

"There's a couple of options for him now, the Listed race at Exeter or a race at Ascot the following week.

"We will see how he gets on in one of those races and then go from there. He's a lovely horse with the right attitude, though, and is going the right way.

"I would say Cheltenham could be an option. He would want a bit of juice in the ground really. He won a bumper on good to firm so it's not imperative, he just seems to handle (softer ground).

"We'll see how he comes out of his next run, but the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett could be options."