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Hamiltons favouring Champion Hurdle tilt over Kelso

Tommy’s Oscar is being primed to take on Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, thus swerving an engagement in the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso on Saturday week.

The seven-year-old has proven to be a real money-spinner for Northumberland-based Ian and Ann Hamilton, winning four consecutive races and rising 18lb to an official rating of 156 in the process.

The son of Oscar has been a revelation since being dropped to two miles and underlined his improvement when taking the Grade Two Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock last month, beating Global Citizen by five lengths.

Owner Ian Hamilton, whose trainer wife Ann needs just one more winner to match last season’s record total of 12, is in two minds about the Champion Hurdle, but is leaning towards a tilt at the extended two-mile championship race on March 15.

“We don’t know what to do. Brian Hughes rode a winner for us the other day (Bavington Bob) and I was asking him, as he is experienced and knows what it takes,” said Hamilton.

“He said that if you have a chance to go, then go.

“But while Tommy’s Oscar has won four races very easily, he has never beaten a Champion Hurdle horse. That is not to say he cannot, because he travels well and he is an improver.

“It is a long way for us to go – it is like a three-day job – and we are farmers and we will have to find someone to look after the job here.

“So, we were thinking the Morebattle, with top weight, would be easier.”

However, the recent storms have hit Kelso hard and the ground is likely to be testing.

“The only trouble is, Kelso is a swamp at the moment. We were up there on Friday and it was almost unraceable,” said Hamilton.

“He handles any ground, but we won’t do both – he will either go to the Morebattle or the Champion Hurdle and at the minute, we are going to the Champion Hurdle.”

Tommy’s Oscar has won eight of his 13 races over hurdles, having taken eight attempts to get off the mark in point-to-points.

Hamilton said: “We have found out that two miles is his trip. That is why he had seven runs in point-to-points before he won – he didn’t stay.

https://twitter.com/REDMILLSHorse/status/1485558374771134464?s=20&t=RB6Z_8WztpPkAR_aR6I5XA

“We ran him at Carlisle in bottomless ground over two and a half miles with top weight (last October) and he didn’t get home. He was with them to two out.

“I think he will probably stay two and a half at Aintree on quick ground. He will have a chance to go in both if gets through Cheltenham, as there is enough of a gap.

“Brian (Hughes) said, ‘You have got to have a go this year, as you don’t know what will happen in another year, do you?’”

However, taking on reigning unbeaten champion Honeysuckle will be a formidable task, according to Hamilton. The odds would also suggest so, as Tommy’s Oscar is currently best-priced 25-1 with Coral.

“I don’t think we have a chance of beating Honeysuckle, unless something happens to her, which hopefully it won’t,” he said.

“But at the minute, we think we will be going to Cheltenham.”

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