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Unbeaten Journey With Me on track for Cheltenham

Journey With Me maintained his unbeaten record and is very much on course for the Cheltenham Festival after justifying odds of 4/11 in the Red Mills EBF Auction Novice Hurdle at Naas.

The Mahler gelding, a point-to-point winner before easily winning a bumper for Henry de Bromhead last season, was following up a maiden hurdle win at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting.

The early pace in this 2m3f event was very pedestrian before Rachael Blackmore elected to send her mount on at the fifth flight, and he needed to be pushed along before asserting on the run-in.

The six-year-old was nicely on top in the closing stages to beat Choice Of Words by three lengths, with Pinkerton a further four lengths adrift in third.

De Bromhead said, “We're happy with that. We just said we'd sit him in and see if he'd be happy enough to settle away as he's always making it. In a normal race he would have been but after half a mile Rachael had to go on. He was good, still a bit green in front, but I'm happy with him.

“Obviously further will suit him, I hope. Nothing is set in stone but I'd say, in my head, I'd be going for the Ballymore. That's two-five. We'll discuss it with connections, today was great and we'll enjoy that.”

City Island won this race in 2019 before going on to land the Ballymore, and Paddy Power (NRNB) make Journey With Me 4/1 (from 5/1) to repeat that feat.

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