Noel Kelly believes Decor Irlandais has fine prospects of giving him the second Graded success of his career in the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick.
The County Derry trainer’s punt paid off when he sent out Charlie’s Vic to win the Dawn Run Mares Novice Chase at Limerick in March 2013 – and he is hoping for a similar outcome on Saturday.
The seven-year-old won with his head in his chest at Catterick last month, and Kelly has taken the necessary steps to ensure Decor Irlandais has every chance of dealing with this rise in class.
“He’s doing very well and will probably improve a bit from the last day, because that was his first run of the season,” he said.
“He’s stepping up in class, and that will let us know how good he is.
“The ground should be OK, the trip should be OK. I hope he’ll handle Warwick all right, but everything looks good.
“We sent him over there on Thursday morning, a day earlier than we normally would. For that class of race, you just need to cover all angles and give him more of a chance.
“I had a horse entered in a Grade Three at Limerick, and I was lucky enough to win that day. This is a Grade Two, so I hope he’ll do the job all right.”
Ben Pauling expects Whatsupwithyou to make his presence felt too, however, after the Irish point-to-point scorer sprang a 33-1 surprise on his debut under rules at Ascot three weeks ago.
“He’s a very nice little horse. We knew he went well at home, without expecting too much at Ascot, but he did it very nicely indeed,” said the Cotswolds trainer.
“He’ll handle the ground; he’ll have improved for the run, and I think he goes there as a very lively runner.
“I can’t work out the other horses’ form. No one knows what they’ve got as novices, but all I know is I’ve got a lovely little horse – and he’ll run a big race.”
Shan Blue bids to give Dan Skelton back-to-back victories in this race, after Beakstown 12 months ago.
“This is a horse that I like a lot,” said the Alcester trainer.
“He fell at Newbury when he would have gone close – then he had a canter round Southwell in an uncompetitive race. We have had this race in mind since.
“It is a big step up, but we are very happy with him. The fall at Newbury didn’t affect him – and that is why we got him out quickly afterwards at Southwell, to get in a clear round.”
Skelton has decent claims with Ardlethen in the other Grade Two contest on the card, the McCoy Contractors 202 Construction News-Awards Finalist Hampton Court Novices’ Chase.
Ardlethen made a winning debut over fences at Chepstow and was second to Sam Spinner at Wetherby, before disappointing when last of three behind Danny Whizzbang at Newbury.
“He has got a tough race on his hands there, but he is joint top-rated,” said Skelton.
“The trip is good, and the track is perfect – he goes there with some good form next to his name.
“I don’t think that was his true running (at Newbury) and I think he is better than that.
“The plan is to head to this, then go to Wetherby for the Towton afterwards, all being well.”
Two For Gold has made a bright start to his chasing career, with victories at Carlisle and Kelso.
Trainer Kim Bailey just hopes the ground is not too testing.
He said: “He is very well, and I’m very happy with him. It is a bit of a step up in class, but he is entitled to be there.
“The ground would be a little bit of a worry, because he found it hard work at Kelso, but the track didn’t suit him. The form hasn’t worked out, but he is in good form – and I’m happy with him.
“You can take the last run away, because the track didn’t suit him and he couldn’t get round the bends, so I’m hoping he will be fine around Warwick.
“He is a nice horse that we have always liked. Tomorrow is his Gold Cup for the season, and it will be a nice race to win.”