Minstrel set for Tolworth
Court Minstrel is likely to take his chance in the 32Red Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
Winner of two of his five bumper races, the six-year-old has already shown smart form in both his starts over the smaller obstacles to earn a crack at this Grade One, better known as the Tolworth Hurdle.
After landing a maiden hurdle at Cheltenham on his first run over jumps in October, he returned to Prestbury Park the following month when he was third to Dodging Bullets and River Maigue in the Grade Two Opus Energy Novices' Hurdle.
The form was given a boost by those two horses at Kempton on Boxing Day. when Dodging Bullets was third in the Christmas Hurdle and River Maigue won the novice hurdle on the same card.
"Whether he wants this ground or not is open to debate, but they are giving a couple of dry days," said trainer Evan Williams.
"Providing his last piece of work goes well, then he is an intended runner in the Tolworth Hurdle on Saturday.
"It's difficult to know where to go, but I do like him and I think he's a horse that sometime in his life could win a decent contest somewhere.
"Although he's turned six now, he's a horse that still needs a bit of time, but I'd be keen to go to Sandown."
Williams describes Court Minstrel as a different type of horse to Deep Purple, who was second in the Tolworth five years ago.
"He's a different type of horse to Deep Purple, who was a more forward horse and had run on the Flat," said the Llancarfan handler.
"Court Minstrel is a National Hunt-bred horse and it's taken a bit of time to settle and educate him. There's more education needed before he's the finished article."