Anthony Honeyball has set his sights on Betway Challow Hurdle glory for Acey Milan.
The trainer believes the Newbury Grade One on December 29 could be an ideal target for his charge, who won three times in bumper company last term and finished fourth at the Cheltenham Festival.
He said: “He won Listed races on heavy ground at Cheltenham and at Newbury. He must have had a hardish race at Newbury, and it was quite tight getting him back for Cheltenham, but he showed all the right signs and ran a solid race in the Champion Bumper.
“I think we are going to start at Ffos Las on November 11 over two and a half. I just want to look after him, and it might be better starting him over two, but I want to start there and get a race into him at a nice steady pace and give him a good education.
“He has done everything right and has done stacks of schooling. Aidan Coleman has schooled him twice, and he is doing everything he should be doing.
“I see the Challow Hurdle as his mid-season ‘Gold Cup’. If he was to win at Ffos Las, he could go to Newbury later in November, then the Challow.
“We would have to take a deep breath if he was to win that, and work back from Cheltenham and Aintree.
“We would like to win some nice races on winter ground with him, though, because we know he copes with it.”
Honeyball expects Grade Two hurdles winner Midnight Tune to excel even further over fences this term.
He said: “She was a Grade Two winner last season – and certainly against mares, I think she could be more potent over fences than she was hurdles.
“She jumps very well at home and schooled over a fence last season. We were going to go chasing then, but we ended up staying hurdling.
“I’d like to run her in a beginners’ chase at Fontwell on November 9 or the 17th at Uttoxeter. I’d quite like to take a similar route to Ms Parfois (last season) and aim her at the Listed chase she won at Newbury in December.
“We will start off against mares, but it would not surprise me if she ended up in a Reynoldstown later in the season.”
Duhallow Gesture could be back in action imminently as she looks to kick on from a bumper campaign that saw her strike Listed gold and run placed in a Grade Two contest at Aintree in April.
Honeyball added: “She is ready to get started, and she has got a bit more experience because she has won a point-to-point in Ireland – so she is a bit more ready to tackle hurdles.
“She schooled lots last season. If we get a deluge of rain, she could go to Plumpton on Monday.
“I’d like her to win a maiden hurdle in early November – then there is a mares’ Listed race at Haydock in December, and that could be a good early-season target. I’d like to start her low key, like Acey Milan, and build her up.”
Duhallow Gesture is also entered at Uttoxeter on Friday.