Horse Racing: Dovecote beckons for Irving

 Irving horse on Dovecote Novices Hurdle

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The Paul Nicholls-trained Irving is set to have his final preparation for Cheltenham in this weekend’s Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton.

The ex-German Flat horse is unbeaten in three outings since joining Nicholls, with his latest success coming in the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot in December, in which he had the subsequent Betfair Hurdle winner Splash Of Ginge six lengths behind despite conceding 3lb.

With the form franked, it is no surprise that the six-year-old is well to the fore in the ante-post market for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and having ridden him on all three starts in Britain, jockey Nick Scholfield will be on board at the Festival.

Scholfield partnered Irving on the gallops on Monday ahead of his engagement this Saturday, and said: “I schooled this morning, we just went around the arena and jumped a few hurdles.

“He’s really fresh and well and he might take his chance on Saturday in the Dovecote.

“His form is good and certainly in my mind he’s probably best of the English novices so far this season.

“He has to be up in the betting for the Supreme.”

Irving has been deposed as clear favourite by the Willie Mullins-trained Vautour at the head of the market for the big race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival on March 11, but has done nothing wrong, and is set to run a big race for the stable that triumphed with Noland in 2006 and Al Ferof three years ago.

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