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The Three Card Brag team eagerly anticipating chasing campaign.

Associations are quick to take the up-sides from Three Card Boast’s fifth-set finish in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Celebration.

On Gold Cup day, the six-year-old trained by Gordon Elliott finished 4-1 second-favorite for the Grade One event after moving up to three miles for the first time.

Three Card Brag, however, was unable to continue in the lung-busting scramble up the Cheltenham hill and finished five and a half lengths behind the winner, Stay Away Fay, despite traveling well for Adrian Heskin and being in a prime position to challenge as the protagonists rounded the home turn.

It is impossible to know what would have happened if the race had been held on any other day of the Festival because of the dry conditions on the final day. However, there are high hopes that he will be able to return to Prestbury Park in the future and make an impact at the important meeting.

“He ran well and it was perhaps slightly frustrating he wasn’t in the first four,” said Iain Turner, racing manager for the McNeill family – who own Three Card Brag along with Patrick and Scott Bryceland.

“We were happy with Three Card and we probably couldn’t have done anything different with him.

“If there was a slight frustration it is you forget how quickly Cheltenham dries and we could have done with some of that ground they were going through on the Thursday. Some of that rain they were talking about for Thursday evening and Friday morning never really arrived.

“He ran very well and with credit. Adrian was very happy with him over the three miles and said he felt an easier ride.

“Also promising, with the future in mind, is that he took the journey over and the travel well and then handled the track – everything which goes with a Festival race – which is all a positive for if we are to return in future seasons.”

The upcoming season is already on people’s minds, and there are high hopes that Three Card Brag will rank highly among the next group of novice chasers.

However, with Aintree and Punchestown still to come, it’s possible that his novice hurdling efforts aren’t completely over. A drop to two and a half miles for the valuable Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final next month at the Kildare venue’s five-day Festival could be a tempting option.

“I don’t think you would be writing off going to either Punchestown or Aintree and he does have the option of dropping back in trip for the Red Mills Final which he qualified for at Galway right back at the beginning of the season,” said Turner.

“He still has the option of running in that race and there isn’t much difference in prize money between that and one of the graded races. But we will leave it up to Gordon. He came out of the race at Cheltenham fine and we’ll just see how he gets on over the next few weeks.

“If he doesn’t run again, he doesn’t owe us anything – he’s won a couple, placed in a couple of graded races then finished fifth at the Festival.

“He’s had a good season and we’re looking forward to novice chasing with him. He looks an exciting one for chasing next year, so fingers crossed he stays sound and then we’ve something to look forward to over fences.”

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