Nicky Richards is looking forward to running Guitar Pete in the bet365 Handicap Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
The Greystoke handler nominated this two-mile-five-furlong contest as the target following his victory in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month and intends to stick to that plan.
“All being well I’m hoping to be there with him,” said Richards. “He seems in grand fettle.”
Guitar Pete was among 12 entries for the weekend feature, in which Harry Fry’s Acting Lass and Lucinda Russell’s Forest Des Aigles could attempt to defend their unbeaten records this season. The latter also holds an entry in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock the same day.
Robert Walford is praying it rains all week for the mud-loving Le Boizelo.
The seven-year-old is proven on heavy ground, as he showed when winning at Wincanton earlier this month.
“It depends on the weather,” said the Dorset trainer. “If it gets very wet all week he will run. If it doesn’t, I don’t think he’ll be running.”
Richard Hobson insists Shantou Flyer is by no means certain to take his chance following his fine effort when second behind Ballyhill at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
The Gloucestershire handler said: “He’ll have entries all the way to the end of the month and we’ll keep our options open.
“It was a fabulous run at Cheltenham last time and he’s back to where we want him.
“He’s had one or two minor issues.”
Other possibles include the hat-trick-seeking Robinshill from the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable and the Venetia Williams-trained duo of Tenor Nivernais and Willie Boy.
*Yesterday’s National Hunt meeting at Ayr was abandoned due to a waterlogged track. Conditions were heavy with further rain expected.
CHELMSFORD: 5.55 Billyoakes, 6.30 Enigmatic, 7.00 SURREY BLAZE (NAP), 7.30 Nonios, 8.00 Reiffa, 8.30 Pulsating, 9.00 Marshall Aid.
LUDLOW: 1.00 Melangerie, 1.30 Jessber’s Dream, 2.00 Mystical Knight, 2.35 Jurby, 3.10 Virak, 3.45 Tanarpino, 4.20 Ligny.
WINCANTON: 1.10 Just A Sting, 1.40 Happy Diva, 2.10 Dawson City, 2.45 Not Another Muddle, 3.20 Acaro, 3.55 Grand Sancy.
SOUTHWELL: 12.20 Outlaw Torn, 12.50 Secret Lightning, 1.20 Swot, 1.50 Axe Cap, 2.20 Handsome Dude (next best), 2.55 Ingleby Spring, 3.30 Roy’s Legacy, 4.05 Star Ascending.