TRAINER Neil King believes Milansbar is capable of successfully defending his crown in the Classic Chase at Warwick.
The veteran staying chaser was a comprehensive winner of the three-mile-five-furlong marathon last season before going on to finish second in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and fifth in the Grand National at Aintree.
He finished down the field on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown last month, but King believes that run will have blown away any cobwebs and is expecting an improved performance on his return to Warwick on Saturday.
“I just wonder if there were a couple of things to explain his run at Sandown. One is that he did a little bit too much in front and secondly, maybe he needed the run more than we thought,” said the trainer.
Bryony Frost was aboard Milansbar last season and this year he has the assistance of another leading female rider in Gina Andrews, who claims a handy 3lb.
Meanwhile, Frost teams up with her favourite horse Black Corton once again in the 32Red Casino Chase at Kempton, a race that saw Malton trainer Ruth Jefferson pull out stable star Waiting Patiently due to the unseasonably quick ground.
Frost and Black Corton combined for seven wins last season, highlighted by a Grade One victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
This season they finished second to the Brian Ellison-trained Definitly Red in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby before the combination of a big weight and soft ground proved too much when pulled up in newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy.
Frost said: “It was very soft ground in the Ladbrokes and we had a lot of weight. He is not the biggest lad. It was a big ask and you had to go and try.
“I know him well and when it wasn’t working, I just felt we’d go another day.
Willoughby Court, who gave Ben Pauling and owners Paul and Clare Rooney their first Cheltenham Festival winner, has been euthanised following surgery.
An infection in his joint prevented the 2017 Cheltenham Festival winner, ridden by David Bass, from making his comeback in November, but all had been going to plan with his recuperation until the same problem flared up once more.