Lienosus has earned his shot at Cheltenham glory.
That’s the verdict of jockey Paul Moloney, who is all set to ride the seven-year-old in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on Friday.
A comfortable win in the Try A Trifecta At totepool.com Maiden Hurdle at Fontwell on Wednesday was enough to convince trainer Evan Williams to grant him a pass to Prestbury Park.
And Moloney, who has piloted the gelding in all three of his races under rules, reckons it is just reward for the hurdler’s performances to date.
‘He is not a flash horse – he is workmanlike,’ said the 34-year-old County Tipperary-born jockey.
‘I was a bit worried at Fontwell because I wasn’t sure how strong the pace would be.
‘But luckily one of the jockeys changed his mind at the start.
‘We needed a true run race, we got it and he has won it well.
‘Lienosus is a nice type and he has earned his right (to be stepped back up in grade).
‘His form is rock-solid now. His two runs have been really, really good, he is a likable type and has a good pedigree.
‘He is a smashing horse and will enjoy the step up in trip (from two miles, two furlongs to three miles).
‘But against lesser opposition around Fontwell on Wednesday he was able to boss them.
‘He is a class sort and it shone through in the end.
‘It was just great to get a win on him.’
Williams was not in West Sussex to see Lienosus justify 1/2-favouritism in his third career start.
However, the Vale of Glamorgan trainer watched it on television and later confirmed the Cheltenham Festival is now firmly on the agenda.
‘We will now definitely look at the Albert Bartlett,’ he said.
‘I think the world of the little horse and the three miles of that race will suit him.
‘He was a horse we were not happy with in the middle of the season.
‘So we gave him a little bit of time to freshen up for a spring campaign.
‘He needed a day away to stretch his legs and we have squeezed in a race over a trip that was sharp enough for him.
‘He’s got his head in front and had a confidence booster.
‘But if Cheltenham comes too soon, there’s a lovely three-mile novice hurdle at Aintree for him.’
The Willie Mullins pair of Pont Alexandre and Ballycasey currently top the ante-post market for the Albert Bartlett.
They are joined at the head of affairs by leading British contender At Fishers Cross, who is trained by Rebecca Curtis for top owner JP McManus.
All three are a best-priced 5/1, while Lieonsus is 33/1 and bigger with most bookmakers.
It was clear Williams held his charge in high esteem when pitching him into the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle on his debut.
He finished an impressive third behind Wonderful Charm, who is expected to deputise for injured stable-mate Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle on Thursday.
Lienosus then finished second to the highly-regarded Clondaw Kaempfer, who has been ruled out of Cheltenham through injury.