Stuart Edmunds has earmarked the Virgin Bet Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown as the first target for Welsh Grand National contender Now McGinty.
The Newport Pagnell trainer intends to run his second-season chaser in the three-mile Listed contest on November 10, en route to Chepstow’s Coral-sponsored marathon.
After finishing second in a Grade Two contest at Ascot on his penultimate start of last season, Now McGinty closed out the campaign by finishing down the field in the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Edmunds said: “He has got handicap options, but he will probably go to Sandown for the intermediate chase.
“It is usually a good race, but there are often only a few runners in it – and it would be better going there than giving him a hard race in a handicap.
“From there he will go straight to the Welsh National, because that is the race I’ve had in the back of my mind since he won at the track last season.”
Having recently announced the retirement of one Grade Two-winning hurdler, Maria’s Benefit, Edmunds will be missing another too this season – after having to rule Queenohearts out of the campaign.
He said: “She came back in, and initially we thought she was fine. But then she had a bit of heat in the leg, and it turns out she has a tendon injury.
“She is a lovely mare. She is fine, and the prognosis is good, and she will be back next season.”