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Cheltenham Contender Black Op To Revert to Hurdles For Cleeve Trials Day Tilt

Wednesday 9th January 2019

Crack novice hurdler Black Op is to revert to the smaller obstacles for a title at the Cleeve Hurdle before heading back to Prestbury Park for the Cheltenham Festival 2019.

The Tom George trained in-mate has endured a mixed start to his career over fences and connections have made the call to switch back to familiar territory ahead of the spring. The 8-year-old was a stand out last season with his 2nd place behind Samcro in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle top class form, but he has failed to replicate that quality as a chaser.

The Roger Brookhouse owned star has failed to fire on two starts in novice chases this term with his jumping technique not up to scratch and connections will be hoping to find his spark back over hurdles.

The Cleeve is now the clear target at the end of the month on Cheltenham Festival Trials day and a good performance there is likely to ensure he is a genuine contender for the Stayers' Hurdle in March. Tom George is clearly looking forward to the rest of the winter with one of his stable stars, although a return to fences at some point hasn't be ruled out.

Hopefully, he can end the season well over hurdles and then he'll go to Yogi in the summer for further schooling before a further decision about going back to chasing.

Last seen down the field in the Dipper on New Year's Day, Black Op will be stepping up to 3m for the first time on Trials Day and is currently a best price 16/1 for the Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival in the spring.

Cheltenham Gold Cup
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