Cheltenham Festival News

Not So Sleepy to head straight to Champion Hurdle

Wed 12 Jan 2022

Not So Sleepy is set to go straight for the Unibet Champion Hurdle after putting in a disappointing performance on his latest start.

Hughie Morrison’s enigmatic 10-year-old was last of five to Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton after dead-heating for first place with the Nicky Henderson-trained mare in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on his previous start.

Not So Sleepy was a creditable fifth behind Honeysuckle in the 2021 Champion Hurdle and after his Newcastle success, Morrison feels Grade Ones is now where the horse belongs.

“He’s very well. He obviously didn’t fancy Kempton that day, which he’s entitled to do after 55 races. He’s old enough to look after himself,” said the East Ilsley handler.

“Now he’s a Grade One winner there’s little point in going for anything else other than a Grade One, but as he gets older he runs best fresh. He’ll go for the Champion Hurdle and we’ll hope he can run into a place. He’ll go straight there – he won’t run before.”

Morrison is looking forward to sending Filanderer novice hurdling next season after the gelding made a winning debut in a bumper at Warwick on New Year’s Eve.

The six-year-old, owned and bred by Morrison’s wife, Mary, made the long wait for his racecourse introduction worthwhile when beating Samurai One by a length and a quarter.

Morrison remains in no rush with the son of Kayf Tara and is likely to run him in just one more bumper before putting him away until the autumn.

Filanderer is bred for the job as his dam, Flirtatious, is a half-sister to both 2002 Champion Hurdle runner-up Marble Arch and Tom Paddington, who was a three-time winner over hurdles and was fifth in the 2003 Cesarewitch.

Morrison said: “I’ve left him alone. I think they all put a lot into these bumpers on this ground. He came back in good shape but he looked quite tired, if nothing else.

“We’ll see where we go. I’ll probably give him one more run this season and then look to go novice hurdling next autumn.

“He’s taken a long time to come right. Now he’s right, let’s hope we can keep him right. He’s obviously got ability and he’s got a nice full-sister for next season. That’s something to look forward to.”

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