Jockey Nick Scholfield is confident that the exciting Papa Tango Charly can keep progressing over fences when he takes his chance in the Grade Two Patrick Coyne Memorial Altcar Novices' Chase (2m) at Haydock Park this Saturday.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained seven year old has made an impressive start to life over the bigger obstacles by winning both of his starts in handicap company at Carlisle in eye-catching fashion so far this winter.
Papa Tango Charly steps into Graded company for the first time here for this £52,000 contest, on an afternoon which sees £294,000 in prize money on offer, a record for this specific fixture.
Scholfield said: “He has won his two starts at Carlisle in handicap company and he has done nothing wrong to be honest. His performance off 138 on the last day was great so it looks like he’s well up to his mark on 145, but it looks a very competitive race and all six look to have a chance.
“Jonjo has done a brilliant job with him and chasing has really brought out the best in him. There are a lot of similar types to him in the race in that they’ve all been progressive in handicaps and at the weights we look to have a chance so it should hopefully be the right race for him.”
Papa Tango Charly, who is owned by Martin Tedham, has an eye-catching pedigree on paper and was bought for £440,000 at the Goffs Aintree Sale in April 2019.
His rider added: “We need to forget that price tag now! Gone are those days and I think we can appreciate what he has done over fences so far and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Scholfield is enjoying an excellent campaign in the saddle so far this season with 42 winners from 330 rides and he will arrive at Haydock Park with a recent Grade Two success under his belt, having guided the exciting Stag Horn to victory in last week’s Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle at Warwick.
Scholfield would need another 24 winners to equal his best ever tally of 66 in a season, achieved in the 2012-13 campaign.
However, he refuses to look too far ahead for the time being and added: “It’s been a fantastic season for me so far and numbers-wise it’s been good. Last weekend was great with Stag Horn winning the Grade Two at Warwick and I can’t complain really.
“He looks a nice prospect and hopefully we can get to Cheltenham. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully I can keep getting on nice horses like him.”
Scholfield has a select book of rides at Haydock Park on Saturday which also includes Rockadenn for the Alastair Ralph team, who takes his chance in the Grade Two The New One Unibet Hurdle over two miles.
The six year old caught the eye when second over three furlongs further at this track last month and his rider feels that his charge should have every chance of holding his own in this trial for the Champion Hurdle – provided that the going comes up soft.
He said: “It’s very much the softer the better for him as far as the ground is concerned and if it’s testing conditions on Saturday that will help him. Obviously he’s got a bit to find at the weights but if it’s testing conditions that will be a big plus.
“It’s a good prize which I won on Melodic Rendezvous for Jeremy Scott many years ago now (back in 2014) so I have fond memories of it and these races deserve to be supported.”