Despite failing to justify odds-on favouritism at Haydock on Saturday, Emma Lavelle’s talented staying novice hurdler Court In Motion is still expected to take his chance at the Cheltenham Festival next month in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, writes Elliot Slater.

The six-year-old looked to have caught a tartar as the unconsidered Howard Johnson-trained newcomer Back In Focus made a scintillating winning debut to beat Lavelle’s star by six-lengths, but he was receiving 7lbs so on balance there is probably little between the pair on form. 11st 11lbs in bottomless ground appeared just a little too much to handle for Court In Motion, a horse who had won on heavy ground on his previous outing, beating Neptune Equester by 21-lengths in Grade 2 company at Warwick.

The fact that Neptune Equester was only 2 ½ lengths behind Court In Motion on Saturday suggests that Lavelle’s Fruits Of Love gelding probably ran a shade below-par.

Just in case he has picked up a virus or was under the weather in any way, Lavelle has decided to have Court In Motion tested, but it may well prove to be the case that the bad ground just got the better of him. Sure to be freshened up in time for Cheltenham, he must still have a serious chance of being in the mix as on the balance of all known form he is a class performer, having run a fine second to Backspin in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury earlier in the term.

Those interested in Cheltenham gold cup betting and other races may be interested to note that time could prove that in trying to give 7lbs to Back In Focus, Court In Motion was attempting the impossible. He remains prominent in the ante-post market for the ‘Albert Bartlett’ at around 10/1, behind Back In Focus who is now the new 8/1 market leader.

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