It was suggested in the Christmas Special that novice Bear Ghylls (10/11) could be one of the best handicapped young hurdlers in the UK and the six year old proved the point when making it three out of three over timber at Exeter on Sunday. The Arcadio gelding had impressed on his hurdles debut at Lingfield in October and, while not as emphatic in victory at Ffos Las next time, he almost certainly wasn't suited by the drop back to the minimum trip at the Welsh track. Stepped up to two miles two for his handicap debut and racing off a mark of 130, he didn't jump particularly fluently in the homestraight but proved far too good for his seven rivals to win comfortably by a handful of lengths. Nicky Martin has plenty of options for her budding star, including the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Time will tell whether he proves Grade 1 class but it must be tempting to continue down the handicap route. The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle would the race I would be aiming Bear Ghylls at in March.
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