Tom Lacey is praying for rain to give Thomas Patrick the best possible chance of claiming victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
On Tuesday, the Berkshire circuit staged its Ladbrokes Winter Carnival gallops morning, giving a number of contenders for the prestigious £250,000 handicap – formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup – a chance to strut their stuff in front of the media ahead of the big race on Saturday week.
Thomas Patrick, who won over the Ladbrokes Trophy course and distance in March and rounded off his campaign by scoring at Aintree, further enhanced his reputation when narrowly beaten by the Colin Tizzard-trained Elegant Escape on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown earlier this month.
Elegant Escape is the 6-1 favourite for the big race, with Thomas Patrick an 8-1 shot to reverse the form.
And the latter delighted his trainer when stepping out on the course with a stablemate.
“We were very pleased with him this morning,” said Lacey.
“In an ideal world we could do with some more rain. If it was good to soft we’d probably let him take his chance, but he does prefer soft ground.”
“I think his run at Sandown was probably a career-best. He gave his all and was always going to come on for that run.
“He’s had a good summer and has come back a lot stronger. He’s definitely taken a step forward.
“He was progressive throughout last season and he’s continuing to progress, I think.”
Anthony Honeyball believes Ms Parfois ticks plenty of boxes.
She was another to engage in some work, alongside stablemate Regal Encore, who was third in last year’s renewal.
Honeyball said: “She’s a very good mare and she’s just got better and better.
“We always thought she’d make a better chaser than hurdler. She was very consistent last season – she just kept turning up and running the same races.
“It would have been nice to have got her head in front in one of her last two races, but it was very good to be involved and have a horse good enough to get in the mix.
“Regal Encore finished third off 150 and was pulling clear of the rest all the way up the run-in. It’s going to be tough for him as you can’t really argue he’s getting better and he’s running off a higher mark this year.
“But if the ground is anywhere near soft, Ms Parfois must have a very good chance. She’s won around here and the trip, the running style and the race will suit her perfectly.”