Pitman is anxious that Princeful, the top staying hurdler in the country, should make his debut over fences as soon as possible, so that two expeditions over the larger obstacles can be made before the gelding tackles the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at Cheltenham. Princeful is also an entry in this year's Gold Cup, but is more likely to have that race as his target in 2000.
The weather is the problem, with Pitman concerned that Princeful's first steeplechasing foray does not take place in a quagmire. The heavy going prevented Princeful from taking on Kadou Nonantais in yesterday's valuable Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby and may also preclude making the shorter trip tomorrow across Berkshire from Pitman's Upper Lambourn stables.
"He is ready to run and seems very, very well," Pitman said yesterday. "He schooled this morning and it was lovely. He is like a souffle that is cooked and ready to be served. I want him to have his first run over fences, but if the ground isn't suitable, he won't run."
Pitman had sad news of her useful chaser Jibber The Kibber, who has collapsed and died after light work. "He was a pleasure to have anything to do with. He was a bit eccentric but I like them like that."
The gelding, winner of six of his 22 starts, gained his most valuable victory in the Tote Silver Trophy Hurdle at Chepstow in November 1995.