Witness Protection will tackles fences for the first time at Southwell on Wednesday evening, after a promising novice hurdle campaign last season.
Martin Keighley’s talent burst onto the scene at Stratford back in November, winning the Dodwell Novices’ Hurdle comfortably by 10 lengths.
The gelding couldn’t justify favouritism at Wetherby a month later, as he was beaten by a head when stepped up to 2m5½f.
But he bounced back with victory at Chepstow in January, travelling strongly to claim a novices’ hurdle at the minimum distance on the Welsh Grand National card.
Witness Protection made his Cheltenham Festival bow in the Coral Cup but ran too keenly, weakening before the last fence.
Keighley’s runner returned to Prestbury Park for the April meeting for his final start over the smaller obstacles, finishing a creditable second behind Favoir in a 2m4½f novice hurdle.
Owned by the Foxtrot Racing Syndicate, the eight-year-old has given his owners plenty to be excited about as he makes the transition to the larger obstacles this season.
Foxtrot Racing owner Dan Abraham stated his hopes for Witness Protection in a pre-Grand National interview back in April.
“He’ll make a lovely chaser next year. We bought him as a chasing type so anything he does over hurdles is a bonus.
“He’s a big baby and there is plenty more to come.”
The gelding features in a six-runner field in a Class 3 Handicap Chase at Southwell, holding a current price tag of 7/2.
He faces tough competition in Donald McCain’s Onthefrontfoot and Peter Bowen’s Statuario, but the eight-year-old is respected over the two-mile trip.
Witness Protection has a tough task on his hands as top-weight, but he could a threatening presence in this company at Southwell if he can carry his hurdle form over to fences.