Trainer Tim Vaughan reports that last season’s very smart bumper performer Destroyer Deployed should make his hurdles bow in January ahead of an anticipated bid for one of the staying novice hurdle events at the Cheltenham Festival in March, writes Elliot Slater.

The five-year-old ran a tremendous race at last season’s Cheltenham Festival in defying odds of 66/1 to come home a fine runner-up to Cheltenian in the Festival Bumper, a performance that hinted at a fine future ahead over timber this season. Unfortunately, the gelded son of Deploy knocked a joint earlier on in the term and had to be placed on the ‘easy list’, but now it appears that all is well and Vaughan is very much looking forward to seeing how his charge will measure up when he tackles two-and-a-half-miles and ten flights of hurdles.

Prior to his great run at Cheltenham Destroyer Deployed had been unbeaten in two starts in National Hunt Flat races, beginning with a win at Towcester in February where he stayed on well up the famous hill at the Northamptonshire track to record a two-and-three-quarter-length verdict over Howard’s Legacy. Just over three weeks later the horse owned by The Craftsmen carried his penalty in style to score at Fontwell, again running on well under pressure up a steep finish to score from Vincentian.

There weren’t too many people interested in paying Destroyer Deployed a second glance in a field of potential star performers at the Cheltenham Festival in March despite his unbeaten record in bumpers, but there was no fluke about the way he performed under Aidan Coleman, leading three furlongs from home then keeping on well once headed by the highly regarded winner to mark himself down as a horse-to-follow this season.