Kayley Woollacott is hoping the ground does not turn heavy for her exciting stable star Lalor in the randoxhealth.com Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
The six-year-old put up a faultless display on his chasing debut in a Grade Two event at Cheltenham, beating some highly-touted rivals in the process.
A Grade One winner over hurdles already at last season’s Grand National meeting, at this stage the sky is the limit for one of the Arkle favourites – but Woollacott will have one eye on the weather, with rain forecast.
“Lalor schooled on Wednesday, and we were really happy with him. He jumped four fences, and all went well, so it’s all systems go for Sandown on Saturday,” she told her Betway blog.
“We normally give him a bit longer than three weeks between races. But he seems in good form at home – and it’s a Grade One.
“Obviously we were waiting a long time for the rain to arrive, but we’re now hoping Sandown doesn’t get too much more.
“He’ll be absolutely fine on soft ground, (but) we’d just be a bit worried if it turned heavy.
“It’s a Grade One, so it’s not going to be easy, but if he can put up a performance like he did at Cheltenham I hope he will go very close.”
Gary Moore’s Diakali arrives with a higher rating, having won his three novice chases to date as a nine-year-old.
Paul Nicholls runs Dynamite Dollars, a seven-length second to Lalor at Cheltenham – while Colin Tizzard’s Pingshou, who ran in the same race, takes them on again.
Chris Gordon’s Highway One O One and Henry de Bromhead’s Ornua, the only Irish-trained runner, complete the select field.
Gordon said: “He hasn’t surprised me how well he’s taken to fences. His last run over hurdles at Sandown was very good, and he’s bred to jump.
“He’s gently progressive, which is fantastic.
“His last run at Carlisle when he beat Dolos was a real gutsy performance, and the way the ground is going you might just need a performance like that to make the difference between winning and losing.
“He doesn’t have masses to find on the figures. I didn’t see Lalor’s win at Cheltenham, but I’ve been told he was very impressive. I think if it came down to a telephone vote everyone would be on Lalor, but I think our fellow is in great form and I’m really looking forward to it.”