Final flight Triumph Hurdle unseater Goshen has the Ebor Handicap on the Flat at York as a summer target.
Trained by Gary Moore, the four-year-old started out racing on the level and won handicaps at Brighton, Sandown and Nottingham before being sent over the obstacles.
Goshen made rapid progress, landing minor juvenile hurdle races at Fontwell, Sandown and Ascot by wide margins. That saw him sent off 5/2 favourite for the Triumph which he looks set to win before unseating jockey Jamie Moore when clear and in command.
Despite failing to complete at the Cheltenham Festival, the official handicapper now rates Goshen 158 over hurdles. A Flat mark of 88 thus looks lenient by comparison.
“We are hoping to get him back whenever the Flat gets going,” said Moore of Goshen. “The Ebor is one of his targets, but at the moment he won’t get in.
“It is all ground dependent, but it’s certainly something we are looking at if we can get a run into him before and he went up in the handicap. I would hope he is pretty well-handicapped on the Flat, but time will tell.
“He’s rated 158 over hurdles, so he should equate to a bit more on the Flat. We certainly hope so.”
Goshen will need to improve, because the Ebor Handicap has a total purse of £1,000,000 for the first time this year. That is going to attract some of the best stayers to York.
Getting into Ebor Handicap difficult with Champion Hurdle a long-term target
To get into the Ebor Handicap last year, a horse needed to have a minimum official mark of 105 with 20 of the 22-runner field rated higher than that. Goshen ranges from a best-price 12/1 with race sponsors Sky Bet to as short as 8/1 and is favourite with all bookmakers.
While winning the Ebor Handicap would go a long way to getting compensation for what happened in the Triumph, the long-term plan is a return to the Cheltenham Festival for a tilt at the Champion Hurdle.
“We would love to run on the Flat, but only if it is right for him as we want him over hurdles,” Moore also said of Goshen.
“It is a tough season for four-year-olds, but hopefully he can prove a bit better. The Champion Hurdle is in the back of our mind.”
Only three horses aged five – which Goshen will be in 2021 – have won the Champion Hurdle since 1976. Despite that negative trend, he is 5/1 second-favourite with the bookies behind 2019 heroine Epatante for Festival glory.
Recent Champion Hurdle renewals have been weak, however, and the ill-fated Espoir D’Allen won it as a five-year-old in 2019. That proves it is possible for horses the season after their juvenile campaign can win the top prize over hurdles in the National Hunt scene.
Goshen is looking to become the first horse to win both the Ebor Handicap and Champion Hurdle in the same season since the legendary Sea Pigeon in 1979-80.