Slate House is becoming another elite member of trainer Colin Tizzard's strong crop of current horses, as he proved when landing the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle.
If Tizzard is feeling the pressure of his enviable position, he did not show it during an interview with Oli Bell of ITV Racing, pausing to take a phone call and quipping live on air: "I'll do an Aidan O'Brien now."
Yet five-year-old Slate House, a former Irish point-to-point winner who joined Tizzard after being bought for £260,000 at a Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham Sale during The Festival in March, is now a prospect for victory in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle next March.
Tizzard, who today saddled a 6.3/1 double initiated by Fox Norton in the Shloer Chase, said of the 5/2 winner: "He's not a world beater yet - we've got to keep the lid on it a little longer, but he's a lovely, young horse and he's done nothing wrong. He could be a two-miler, he could be a three-miler, we just don't know. What we do know now is he's not ground dependent.
"Today he looked like he stayed on, so a fast-run two miles might suit him. He did pull a bit, so I might stick him in a three-miler to see if he will relax. We'd like to think he could be good, but he's a gorgeous looking horse and we'll have to mind him. He's got a long way to go, but he's got size, he's a beautiful creature, and he's won his last three races.
"The one thing going into today's race that was a concern is that he's by [the stallion] Presenting, so we wondered if he would handle the going, but he was good on it so we don't have to raise that issue again."
Despite winning a three-mile Irish point-to-point, Tizzard says that is no guarantee that Slate House will relish that trip at this higher level. He said: "We used to train a pointer called Qualitair Memory, and he won 14 point-to-points, but he could not win under Rules until we dropped him back to two miles. Just because he won points that only proved he was a classier horse than his rivals, not that he stayed three miles. It's all about pace. If this horse has pace we don't need to go up in trip, but we might in time."
Cobden said: "It was a messy race. They took two hurdles out in the straight [because of low sun] before we started, and we sort of crawled towards the stands the first time, and there was no gallop on. I thought, 'This lad's a three-mile point-to-pointer', so rather than wrestle him I let him bowl on and do it himself, which wasn't really what I had had in my head, but he bowled away lovely, winged the last and we turned in and there were flags and whistles as we bypassed the [dolled off] hurdles.
"For a horse only having his second run on a proper racetrack, it was a little bit for him to think about it, and he idled a bit in front. He's quite a sensitive horse and it wasn't ideal when I was trying to get him going forward. But when one came to him he picked up nicely. He's a nice horse.
"I'd say he's a very smart horse. I don't know how far he's going to go, but he's won a Grade Two and I'd say he's won it comfortably. He'll probably end up wanting three miles and fences one day, but he's a lovely prospect."
3.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)
1 SLATE HOUSE (Eric Jones, Geoff Nicholas, John Romans) Colin Tizzard 5-11-00 Harry Cobden 5/2
2 Summerville Boy (Roger Brookhouse) Tom George 5-11-00 Adrian Heskin 16/1
3 Better Getalong (David Wesley Yates) Nicky Richards 6-11-00 Noel Fehily 7/1