VINTAGE Clouds will have the Randox Health Grand National as his big aim again this season – with a return to Aintree on the cards in the Becher Chase up first.
The grey only got as far as the first fence in the National last season, but prior to that he had been his usual consistent self and was a fine second at the Cheltenham Festival for Bingley trainer Sue Smith and her husband Harvey.
He was then favourite for the Scottish National, where he was sixth, but regular rider Danny Cook, speaking at a press event at Wetherby staged by Go Racing In Yorkshire, confirmed Aintree was the primary objective once again.
“He jumped the first fence at Aintree too well and came down steeply,” said Cook, who partnered the Trevor Hemmings-owned nine-year-old in a spin with stablemate Sharp Response.
“The plan is to run him in the Becher Chase in early December to get some experience of the fences, before another attempt at the Grand National.”
Cook was also aboard his intended bet365 Charlie Hall Chase mount, the Brian Ellison-trained Definitly Red, in a gallop.
Definitly Red, who won Wetherby’s headline race last year, is due to face, amongst others, Phil Kirby’s Top Ville Ben in next month’s eagerly-anticipated renewal.
Kirby will also be running stable star Lady Buttons at the meeting. “She is a star and without her we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said the ambitious Catterick trainer.
“We look forward to returning to Wetherby with her at the beginning of November, for a race she won last year.”
Malton trainer Ruth Jefferson was in attendance to speak about Waiting Patiently, who has flown the flag for the North in Grade One races for the past couple of seasons, although his last campaign did not go entirely to plan.
He made his return in the King George on Boxing Day and was brought down by Bristol De Mai, another Charlie Hall possible, leaving connections unsure whether the chaser stays three miles.
His jockey Brian Hughes explained: “Although we still had a mile and a half to go and I couldn’t be sure that he would stay, he was giving me a great feel.
“We were going quite quickly over the first four fences, but it felt like he was just doing a hack canter.”
Wetherby is preparing to stage Yorkshire’s opening National Hunt meeting of the 2019-20 season tomorrow.
The close-season has been used to carry out some behind- the-scenes work and prepare for future projects at the West Yorkshire track.
A new e-ticketing system has been implemented which is phase one of a new admission programme which will result in the redevelopment of the main turnstile entrance building and entrance road next summer.
Together with Doncaster and Catterick, 38 jumps fixtures are due to be staged in the county in the coming weeks. John Sexton, chairman of Go Racing In Yorkshire, said: “Jump racing is an exciting part of Yorkshire’s fixture list. We are looking forward to a brilliant season, which will feature some top class racing.”