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    Gavin Cromwell Contemplates Last-Minute Decision on Flooring Porter's Festival Target
Gavin Cromwell Contemplates Last-Minute Decision on Flooring Porter's Festival Target
Image courtesy of Racing Post 

Gavin Cromwell Contemplates Last-Minute Decision on Flooring Porter's Festival Target

Gavin Cromwell is currently facing a crucial decision regarding Flooring Porter's next appearance at the highly-anticipated Cheltenham Festival.

The two-time Stayers' Hurdle champion has the option to defend his title once again or take on the challenge of the National Hunt Chase. 

Having demonstrated his aptitude for fences with an impressive victory over Broadway Boy in October, there were concerns among connections about his ability to perform on right-handed tracks, which were validated in his subsequent outing at Punchestown's Florida Pearl. Despite finishing third, he faced interference from a loose horse, hindering his performance. Following his recent third-place finish behind the sidelined Grangeclare West at Leopardstown over Christmas, Gavin Cromwell is contemplating a move up in distance at Cheltenham in March. 

However, he remains open to the possibility of reclaiming the Stayers' crown he secured in both 2021 and 2022. Cromwell stated, "Flooring Porter is currently entered in both the Stayers' Hurdle and the National Hunt Chase. We haven't made a final decision yet, and we will monitor the developments of both races as time draws nearer. I certainly wouldn't rule out the Stayers' Hurdle. If we exclude Gordon's Elliott's runners, the race seems quite open, which is why we have kept that option available. Flooring Porter made a promising start to his chasing career, and we can disregard the Punchestown run due to the track direction and the interference caused by the loose horse. His performance at Christmas was commendable, although we may have had higher expectations as he finished third. He jumps well, and his familiarity with the Cheltenham course, coupled with the spring ground conditions, could work to his advantage. Initially, our plan didn't involve going chasing, but since he hadn't secured a victory since his second Stayers' Hurdle win, we decided to explore this new path". 

Gavin Cromwell has been actively participating in the UK racing scene this season and has achieved an impressive strike rate of nearly 20% with seven winners already at Cheltenham. Reflecting on his success, he mentioned, "We started in October, and after assessing a couple of races, I felt that they presented good opportunities, which turned out to be successful. At the first meeting, we secured three wins, and we carried that momentum into November, keeping the victories coming. This year, we have focused more on finding the right races. For instance, on New Year's Day, Stumptown triumphed in a £50,000 five-runner handicap. If that race had taken place in Ireland, it would likely have attracted a full field. Cheltenham is a special place, and there's nothing quite like securing a victory at the Festival. Every win there is a fantastic achievement. It's a unique venue. Our primary focus this year is on handicaps, and considering the excellent performance of our horses, we hope to bring them to the Festival in top form". 

When asked about his potential runners, Cromwell revealed, "Initially, we believed My Mate Mozzie had the potential for the Arkle. He has shown promise as a Flat horse and a hurdler, although not at the highest level. Therefore, it was always up for debate whether he would be competitive enough. He has been assigned a mark, so the Grand Annual could be an option, but given the open nature of this year's Arkle, it's worth considering. However, he would need to perform exceptionally well above his mark to secure an Arkle victory, as there can only be one Arkle winner. Limerick Lace and Brides Hill are both likely contenders for the Mares' Chase. As for Only By Night, she is currently entered in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle, but considering her disappointing performance at Lingfield and her subsequent quiet demeanour, we may opt to keep her at home and remove her from consideration". 

In 2019, Cromwell achieved success in the Champion Hurdle with the talented five-year-old Espoir D'Allen, who tragically never raced again. While Cromwell prefers to focus on the future rather than dwell on the past, he acknowledged the significance of the victory, stating, "Winning the Champion Hurdle was a tremendous achievement. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Espoir D'Allen's final race. I'm not one to linger on past successes, but I have a large picture of him that I see every morning. I'm always looking forward and maintaining a positive outlook. Winning such a prestigious race provides a vote of confidence for the owners, assuring them that their horse is in good hands”.

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