Tom George believes Summerville Boy deserves a crack at the best two-mile hurdlers after his exploits last season and he gets the chance straight away in Saturday’s BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner will certainly have his mettle tested as he is due to take on dual champion Buveur D’Air and Irish star Samcro.
Summerville Boy’s Cheltenham Festival success came in last-gasp fashion after mistakes at the final two flights meant he only overtook Kalashnikov in the dying strides.
“He had a good summer, he’s been back in since the middle of July and since then we’ve been gradually stepping him up and he’s ready to go now,” George said.
“Hopefully it will be a good platform for the rest of the season.
“We had a few mistakes in the latter part of his races, but essentially he’s a good jumper.
Samcro beat Black Op, a stablemate of Summerville Boy in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in March and George feels that gives him a good sense of the form.
“Black Op was the only horse to get near to Samcro and he got the last wrong that day. Without that, he’d have put it up to him, but he’s a different horse completely to Summerville Boy so we’ve a good idea where we stand. We’ll just keep that to ourselves for the time being!” he said.
“Obviously they have been talking Samcro up as the best to come out of Ireland for some time and if that’s the case, then we’ll be happy to come behind him, but we’ll give it our best shot and see how we get on.
“We couldn’t be happier, he’s in at the deep end but hopefully we’ll have something to build on.”
With regard to Black Op, George admits it has been a frustrating wait for the right novice chase in which to unleash his smart hurdler.
George hopes to finally take the wraps off the Roger Brookhouse-owned seven-year-old at Exeter on Friday week.
“It’s been frustrating as there are no novice chases for him,” said George.
“He can’t go round the small tracks, he needs a galloping track and I don’t really want to go to a Grade One track first time (over fences) so he’s in the halfway house. There aren’t many tracks as when you find the right track, there aren’t any races.
“He’ll go to Exeter on December 7, but he’s in good form.”