All roads still lead to the Randox Health Grand National for Traffic Fluide.
Gary Moore reports his Aintree hope “absolutely fine” after his heavy fall at the last fence just as he threatened to pull off a 40-1 Grade One shock on his first run for 15 months in the Betfair Ascot Chase.
The only headache en route to Aintree for the Sussex trainer is whether he can find a prep race over hurdles – and as things stand, he is struggling to do so.
Traffic Fluide, who has been allocated a weight of 10st 3lb and is still available at 40-1 with most bookmakers for the world’s most famous steeplechase on April 4, was running a mighty race when he came down at Ascot on Saturday.
A relieved Moore said: “He’s absolutely fine. He’s eaten up ever since, and he’s trotted up nice and sound as well. So thank goodness, all is OK.
“He took a heavy fall, but he seems none the worse for it. He’s a battle-hardened old horse.”
National plans therefore remain intact, but Moore admits he may not be able to find another race beforehand for the 10-year-old.
He added: “I don’t want to go straight to Aintree, but it’s looking like I’ve got to – because I want to run him in a hurdle race, but I can’t find one for him that’s suitable.
“So if I have to take him straight to Aintree, then that’s what I’ll do.”
Moore will not be tempted into either a fencing prep, or the Cheltenham Festival, and may instead consider a racecourse gallop.
“I don’t really want to run him again over fences (before then), so if I have to take him away somewhere I’ll do that,” he said.
“I don’t want to go to Cheltenham – that’s coming too soon. There’s lots of reasons why I don’t want to – the perfect race would be to run him on Sunday (at Fontwell), but that’s far too quick (after Ascot).”
The lightly-raced Traffic Fluide spent much of his early career over much shorter trips, but he has won at up to three miles and indicated several times that he may have as yet untapped potential as a stayer.
Moore said: “I think he’s just a very, very talented horse – not that long ago, he was placed in the Clarence House (over two miles, one furlong at Ascot in 2016).
“There was a time (they said) you needed a two-and-a-half-mile horse to win the National. Whether that’s the case now, I don’t know, but I’m confident he’ll settle well in the race – he showed that on Saturday – and he’ll travel, and he’ll jump.
“They’re the main two attributes (for Aintree) really.”
Traffic Fluide has won and run well several times on soft or heavy ground – including last weekend – but Moore will still be hoping for drier conditions in the National.
“Good ground is more his game,” he said.
“He’s quite a good-moving horse.
“I just think that was his raw ability that came out on Saturday, showed how good he is. Good horses will handle any ground – and it looks like he did as well.”