With the best young jumpers increasingly herded into the same yards, it is dispiriting to hear a trainer with the flair and experience of Mouse Morris lamenting a lack of resources. By the same token, then, at least one of the sport's big spenders merits congratulation for backing a man whose idiosyncrasies and sensitivity will always get the best out of a horse – even if they prevent him squandering his dignity, in flattery or salesmanship.
Over the next three days, Morris will continue the education of two youngsters from the Gigginstown cavalry of Michael O'Leary. Rule The World and Rogue Angel, who have both made a fine start to their hurdling careers, respectively proceed to Thurles today and Gowran on Saturday. "We're a bit short on horses at the minute," Morris said yesterday. "So it's nice to have a couple of young ones coming through."
Rule The World bolted up at Punchestown last month and could hardly have shaped better, without winning, than when stepped up in trip at Cork next time. "He didn't jump the last two great, but that was just inexperience," Morris said. "That's why we're going [back to] two miles six tomorrow."
The Co Tipperary trainer is conforming to past practice, in getting experience into the horse before Christmas, permitting the possibility of a break before the Festival. "He has a bit more to do before he can go on the list for Cheltenham," Morris cautioned. "Though I think he'd be okay on [spring] ground. He's tall, but quite light framed."
Rogue Angel likewise won his maiden on the bridle, at Galway last month. "He's only four," Morris stressed. "He'll end up wanting a bit of a trip." Perhaps some day one of these horses will emulate First Lieutenant, typically produced to register new peaks over both hurdles and fences on his first two visits to Cheltenham. First Lieutenant improved for his reappearance when running Kauto Stone close at Down Royal earlier this month, and the door remains ajar to the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday week.
"It depends on the ground, and the top ones staying in," Morris said. "He was disappointing the first day, but ran a good race at Down Royal. We just put the cheekpieces on to help the pilot, because he hadn't jumped so well at Gowran. I think the track beat him, more than anything – a lot of it is downhill, and he needs a stiff track. But he's a spring horse really."
Meanwhile, the next stage in Frankie Dettori's protracted ordeal over a failed drugs test was completed yesterday when the French authorities temporarily suspended his licence, following a meeting of their medical committee on Tuesday. The disciplinary stewards have a fortnight to complete the process.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Light Burst (6.10 Kempton) Back from a break with another good run at Wolverhampton on Monday and retains a dangerous profile against mostly exposed rivals.
One to watch
Vasco Du Ronceray (Nicky Henderson), finally beaten seven lengths at Cheltenham on Saturday, promised to last longer when conditions place more emphasis on speed.
Where the money's going
The Hennessy Gold Cup gamble on Bobs Worth continues. He is now 7-2 from 4-1 with William Hill.