Ben Pauling is confident he has Global Citizen exactly where he wants him for his return to the top table in the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
The eight-year-old warmed up for his first start at Grade One level since finishing down the field in last year’s Champion Hurdle by taking part in a racecourse gallop at Kempton on Tuesday morning.
Although a touch keen through the early stages, Global Citizen – winner of the Grade Two Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase on his previous visit to the track in December – finished off the gallop well to cross the line alongside his work companion Delire D’Estruval.
Pauling said: “He was easy for the eye to see, and he was good. He was very well in himself, and I feel like we have got him spot on. He just wants to get on with life.
“David (Bass) said he took a fierce hold in behind but worked very well. I’m chuffed to bits with that, and it puts us bang on track for the Arkle.
“We’ve freshened him up since his win at Kempton, and I couldn’t be any happier with him.”
Pauling may choose the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual for Delire D’Estruval ahead of the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at Cheltenham.
“He delighted me there,” said the Bourton-on-the-Water trainer.
“He is a tough horse. He is in the Plate and the Grand Annual. I think with the way the ground is looking, he will go two miles for the Grand Annual.
“You can’t say he is thrown in at the weights, but he is a very competitive handicapper.”
Pauling remains none the wiser as to which route he is going to take with last year’s National Hunt Chase winner Le Breuil, who also enjoyed a racecourse gallop at Kempton and is prominent in the ante-post market for the Randox Health Grand National.
He said: “We are Grand National-bound, but he has got to have a prep race. He is favourite for the Kim Muir and is also in the Ultima – but he is in at Kelso and Doncaster this weekend.
“After that piece of work, he is in good form – and for a four-miler, he has worked very nicely with a two-miler. Wherever we go, it will put him spot on.
“I suppose it is very tempting to go to Cheltenham when you are favourite for a race there – but does he need that harder race before the National?”
Your Darling will bid to move a step closer to the Grade Two Aintree Bumper by backing up his impressive Newbury debut success in the Racing TV Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Huntingdon on Sunday.
Pauling said: “The plan is to run on Sunday at Huntingdon, and he worked well this morning.
“He was so well and fresh at home that we have decided to give him one run between now and Aintree.”