Wetherby likely to suit Neptune Equester more

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Brian Ellison says testing conditions could scupper Neptune Equester’s participation in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27.

The eight-year-old is as short as 12-1 following an impressive recent victory at Haydock, but he could instead head to Wetherby over the Festive period if conditions at Chepstow go against him.

“He’s still in the race but it’s a bit ground dependant at the moment,” said Ellison. “He goes on soft ground but I don’t want to give him a slog at this time of year on heavy ground over three miles five (furlongs). He’s also in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby, so we’ll see.”

Richard Lee has his fingers crossed that Le Beau Bai makes the cut for the big event.

Few races suit the needs of the eight-year-old more than the marathon event, usually run in hock-deep conditions.

Le Beau Bai was third in the 2009 renewal, but had shown little form since before taking advantage of a falling handicap mark at the Monmouthshire venue earlier this month.

Yet despite incurring a 4lb penalty, he would need several horses above him in the weights to drop out to guarantee a run.

“Usually people complain about going up in the handicap, but we aren’t. If he gets in, he gets in – there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Lee.

“It wasn’t a surprise he won. It was the first time he’d had his ground since he won the same race two years ago.

“Chepstow plays to his strengths as it’s a real stamina track. He’s a bonny horse with a great character and he never knows when he’s beaten.

“If he doesn’t get in I’m thinking seriously about taking him to Gowran for the Thyestes, although I haven’t discussed that with the owners yet.”

n Legendary stayer Big Buck’s will face six rivals as he bids to stretch his unbeaten run over timber to 14 in the Lough Derg Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot tomorrow.

Paul Nicholls’s eight-year-old has not tasted defeat since the Hennessy Gold Cup of 2008 and has seen off all pretenders to his crown.

Stablemate Five Dream, who chased home Big Buck’s in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, will also represent the Ditcheat stable.

David Pipe would love nothing better than to claim the race named in honour of one of his former stable stars and saddles Dynaste.

Sparky May was only fourth behind Big Buck’s at Newbury but is entitled to come on for that and will be fledgling trainer Keiran Burke’s first runner in a Grade One race, while Pettifour has returned form a long absence to show all of his ability remains intact.