Global Citizen to go straight for Aintree Grade 1 after mark is raised 19lb
Dovecote Novices' Hurdle winner Global Citizen will bypass the Imperial Cup and County Hurdle in favour of a crack at Grade 1 glory at Aintree after his handicap mark was raised 19lb to 149 following his hugely impressive victory on Saturday.
The six-year-old, who had been rated 130, put up a completely dominant display at Kempton, pulverising his opponents by nine lengths in such fashion that a hefty rise was inevitable. It was just a case of how much.
After his new mark was revealed, trainer Ben Pauling said: "Well, we don't have to worry about handicaps!
"I thought anything under 145 was going to be very fair and he'd have been exceptionally dangerous off that. He's a fast-improving novice and off 149 would probably still have been competitive [in the County Hurdle]. But unless you think you're genuinely going to win, does a horse of his age and experience need to be flying around in the County Hurdle? Probably not.
"He'll run in the two-mile novice hurdle at Aintree [the Top Novices' Hurdle]."
Reflecting on the 19lb rise, Pauling said: "I don't think you could call it severe. Everyone always thinks the handicappers are out to get them, but realistically they're a completely impartial group of people trying to make racing as fair as possible. He was very impressive. They could have given him anything."
Global Citizen was beaten on both starts over hurdles for Jonjo O'Neill, but while his ascent under Pauling has been sudden it has not come as a complete surprise to the trainer.
"I haven't had him all that long, he's been with me about two months," said Pauling. "He seemed a nice horse on the gallops but to say a horse shows enough to produce a performance like he did at Kempton would be daft. However, there's no two ways about it – he obviously showed us plenty at home to run him in a Grade 2 when he was rated 130.
"I think he could be very decent. Hopefully, we'll get to see what he can do at Aintree."
Willoughby Court provided Pauling with a breakthrough Cheltenham Festival success last year but on Monday it emerged his participation at next month's meeting is in doubt due to poison in a foot.
"It's a case of waiting and seeing with Willoughby Court," said Pauling. "We'll have to make a decision in the next couple of days but at the moment we're just hoping and praying and doing everything we can to get him right and back in time. I'd say it's 70-30 against him running."
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