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Goshen’s Triumphant Return Could Pre-Empt Stayers’ Hurdle Tilt

Although the horse is unlikely to remember it, the date Friday 13 March, 2020, will live long in the minds of many punters.

That was when Goshen, streaking away to a comfortable victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, slipped at the final fence when ten lengths clear and unseated rider Jamie Moore.

That was heart-breaking for connections and those who had backed the 5/2 favourite, and while victory in the Listed Contenders’ Hurdle at Sandown Park followed, it’s fair to say that the six-year-old’s career is yet to return to the heights of his Festival peak.

However, a Grade Two win at Ascot in November, on his return to hurdling, has given rise to optimism about Goshen’s future, and he has now been installed as a 33/1 chance in the Cheltenham betting odds for the 2023 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

The Cheltenham tips for that particular race will focus on more ‘qualified’ sorts, such as the 4/1 ante-post favourite Flooring Porter, the exciting Blazing Khal (6/1) and Klassical Dream (10/1), but Goshen has the course form at Prestbury Park… until his ill-fated fall at the last back in 2020, of course.

Victory in the Ascot Hurdle, which came by eight lengths at the expense of the previously 158-rated Brewin’upastorm, suggests that Goshen has found something over the course of a summer which saw a handful of mediocre efforts on the Flat.

Could trainer Gary Moore be tuning up the inconsistent-but-honest Goshen for another tilt at Cheltenham glory?

Family Affair

While Gary is in charge of getting Goshen into racing shape, it’s his son Jamie who is tasked with steering the horse around the course.

One of the most bewitching images of the Cheltenham Festival in recent years was Moore, slumped on the turf and head in hands, following the six-year-old’s blunder at the last in the Triumph Hurdle. So it’s somehow fitting that the jockey is back in the saddle in a bid to return Goshen to former glories.

He will be hoping for redemption at Prestbury Park, but Gary might be a spanner in the works of that plan given Goshen’s penchant for jumping to the right – a real negative at left-handed courses like Cheltenham.

“We'll definitely go right-handed. The more you fight him, the worse he's getting,” said a deflated Moore Jr after a below-par run in the 2021 Champion Hurdle at the Festival.

That might disappoint some followers, but there are still plenty of Grade One hurdles at right-hand courses for the Moores to consider alongside Goshen’s owner Steve Packham. The Christmas Hurdle at Kempton might be on the radar, while 2023 could be seen in with a tilt at the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.

Gary Moore has even hinted that another try over fences – Goshen disappointed over the larger obstacles in a run out at Ascot in October – could be in the offing, especially as the ground begins to soften heading into the teeth of winter.

One thing that is for sure is that life as a Goshen backer is never dull. If he could prevail in a Grade One this season it would be a comeback for the ages…