Jessica Harrington believes Steps To Freedom is a stronger horse now than when he was last seen winning at Cheltenham in November.
Since that performance, Steps To Freedom has been towards the head of the betting for the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and while Harrington decided against a prep run on the all-weather at Dundalk, she remains very happy with his condition.
“I think he’s got a good bit stronger, he’s tightened up a bit, even from his trip to the Curragh yesterday,” said Harrington.
“I toyed with the idea of running him at Dundalk, we even entered him there, but I decided against it.
“He had a busy enough Flat season and then won his three races. It was always the plan to give him a break and I’m very happy with him.”
Harrington also saddles a live outsider in the Stan James Champion Hurdle in Oscars Well.
“Oscars Well would show you nothing at home. You have to be careful not to overcook him as you think he needs more work but he doesn’t,” she added at a media morning at her yard.
“His jumping has got very slick, he’s improving all year and I hope he’s coming to a peak.
“The Champion Hurdle is obviously a very hot race and I’d be delighted if he could finish in the first three.
“We have the option after of going over two and a half miles at Aintree and he’ll go chasing next year, when he’ll probably be a two-and-a-half-mile horse.”
Robbie Power rides most of Harrington’s horses and feels the Champion Hurdle could be run to suit his mount, who was unlucky in the Neptune last year when he made a bad mistake at the last whilst holding an advantage.
“It looks like the Champion Hurdle will probably cut up to no more than 12 runners as Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls both have plenty of entries,” said Power.
“There looks sure to be a strong pace with Celestial Halo and Overturn and that will really suit us.”
Harrington also plans to run Jetson in the Pertemps Final.
“He likes good ground and that’s the reason why we haven’t run him since he won his Pertemps Qualifier,” she added.