Saturday 24 February 2018

Williams tempted to put Ballyalton away for rest of campaign

Ian Williams is leaning towards putting Ballyalton away for the remainder of the campaign following his fantastic run in defeat at the Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old, owner by professional golfer Lee Westwood's father, John, won three of his first four starts over hurdles this season before faltering in atrocious conditions at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

However, he showed his true colours when finishing second to the exciting Faugheen in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle a fortnight ago and Williams is relishing the prospect of seeing his charge over fences next term.

"He came out of Cheltenham in great form, but I'm almost certain we've scrapped the idea of going to Aintree next week with him," said the Alvechurch-based trainer.

"There are other options, but I need to speak to John and Lee Westwood and see what they want to do.

"He could go to Punchestown if John and Lee wanted to and were able to attend, or he could run in a novice chase at the turn of the season, so we'll see.

"I would perhaps like to put him away and pop him over fences next season, as I think he has achieved everything we hoped over hurdles and probably a bit more.

"He ran extremely well at Cheltenham, bumping into another potential superstar, and we've always been guarding our horse to go chasing.

"It's a bit early to say what trip he'll be running over next season, but I wouldn't be against starting off over two miles, as we did over hurdles, as he's not short of pace.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

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