John Berry is hoping White Valiant can defy long odds once again when he runs at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, writes Liam Apicella.
On debut at Huntingdon in early November, the three-year-old was regarded as an 80-1 shot with the bookmakers to triumph in the 15-runner race.
But win it he did, and in doing so convinced Berry that he was ready to make the move up alongside more esteemed company in the EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club (3.40pm).
The race will include horses trained by Cheltenham stalwarts Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Nigel Twiston-Davies, which will almost certainly consign White Valiant within the group of outsiders again.
But Berry is confident his grey gelding will not look out of place in it.
“He won nicely at Huntingdon, but we know Cheltenham will be much tougher,” said the former mayor of Newmarket, who has been training race horses since 1995.
“If it ends up being too strong for him, we always have the option of dropping him back next time.
“It is tough to predict what is going to happen, but I expect him to run respectably and we will see where that takes him.
“It is a special day just to have a runner at a course like Cheltenham — it is one to savour whatever the outcome.”
On a personal level. Berry’s best result at Cheltenham came back in 2002 when Diamond Joshua finished third in the Triumph Hurdle.