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Honour plotting Sandown Gold run for Tile Tapper.

After placing second in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, Tile Tapper may be eligible to compete in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

The lightly raced nine-year-old owned by Chris Honour was rewarded for choosing to skip the Cheltenham Festival after being defeated by Major Dundee by three lengths on his first attempt over an extended three miles.

Honour was impressed enough by the performance to predict that the horse he bred would eventually dominate staying trips.

“We are delighted with him. It was just unfortunate we were second. I’m a competitor and second is the first loser, but you can’t grumble in a race like that for a yard our size. I’m proud of him,” he said.

Tile Tapper demonstrated his abilities by finishing third to Metier in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown two years ago. In February of that same year, he scored at Chepstow on his third attempt over fences.

He has been completely consistent ever since, winning his penultimate race at Carlisle and finishing second on three other occasions. The possibly smear on his copybook came when fourth at Kempton in January.

Honour said: “I’ve known he has been good all his life, but he has been incredibly difficult to train.

“He put me in hospital breaking him in. I don’t suffer fools gladly and he got me in one! There is no messing around with him.

“The real difficulty is that he suffers with dust and allergies, which has made him bleed in the past.

“We seem to have got to the bottom of that by the fact he lives out in a field on Dartmoor and he lives out there by himself. He has got his own house, but never goes in.

“He lives in the elements and that seems to have been what has fixed him. He has been very good this season and has been consistent.

“We had one relatively disappointing run at Kempton, but it transpired the number cloth got underneath his tack and rubbed a sore into his wither. Other than that, he has been good all season, so we are super proud of him.”

Honour is now focusing on big staying handicaps with the long-term goal of competing in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow next season.

“I have been very careful all the way through and it was a big step up from Carlisle,” added the trainer.

“We were fairly confident of getting the trip and with the prize money, we thought it was a better way to go than going to Cheltenham for something like the Ultima. To finish second in a £150,000 race, you have got to be happy.

“We have gone up 5lb to a mark of 137, which I think is fair. He has to have soft ground as he is very delicate and if the ground is soft, we will have a look at the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown at the end of the season.

“Otherwise, we will put him away and aim him at the Welsh National next year. I think Chepstow is his track.”

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