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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Tom taking Cheltenham testHeadlines
Tominator

Jonjo O'Neill is hoping Tominator can step up on his debut win over jumps when he runs in the Opus Energy Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Winner of the 2011 Northumberland Plate when in the care of Reg Hollinshead, he got his hurdling career off to a good start at Bangor last month, but this Grade Two contest represents a big leap in class.

"He needed to win at Bangor. It wasn't a great race, but he did his job nicely," said Jackdaws Castle-based O'Neill.

"He came out of the race in good shape and he's schooled well, but it's a bit of a tall order. We'll see where we go after that. If he did translate his Flat form, then he's in with a chance. He's done nothing wrong at home, so there's no reason not to go."

Paul Nicholls set Dodging Bullets stiff tasks as a juvenile in the last campaign but is pleased the four-year-old can continue down the novice route this term as he was unable to win a race.

He wasted no time in getting off the mark on his reappearance on this track last month.

"It's probably just as well he didn't win last year so he was a novice for this season," the champion trainer told Sky Sports News. "We aimed him quite high - he was fourth in the Triumph, he was second in the Adonis.

"He was quite backward last season. He's done well and has already won at Cheltenham when we didn't think he was quite right. The form of that race hasn't worked out, but he's ready to go to Cheltenham for the first big novice hurdle and he's a horse to follow."

Dual bumper winner Court Minstrel made a successful debut over the course and distance recently, but the five-year-old has much more on his plate, according to his trainer Evan Williams.

"He won an ordinary enough maiden hurdle by Cheltenham standards in my opinion," said the Llancarfan handler. "He's got a lot more on his plate, that's for sure. He's in good form, I can't ask for more on that score, but it's a massive step up in class."

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