Ahoy Senor set for Kempton over Wetherby for Boxing Day showdown
One of last season’s leading novices, the seven-year-old failed to fire when favourite for the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his reappearance, but improved to take third behind Grand National hero Noble Yeats in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree earlier this month.
Ahoy Senor has the option of reverting to handicap company in Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick Chase on the same day as the King George, but Russell is keen to roll the dice in Grade One company.
“The plan initially for Ahoy Senor was the King George, then we were eyeing up a race at Wetherby instead, but we’re changing our mind again and he will run at Kempton on Boxing Day,” the trainer said in her bet365 column.
“We’ve been talking to everyone about it – we’ve spoken to Derek Fox (jockey), we’ve spoken to the owners, to Scu (Peter Scudamore, trainer’s partner) and I think now the plan is to go to Kempton.
“The feeling is there’s probably going to be a smaller field, but the most important thing is that I think he’s a Grade One horse and he belongs in that company. Yes, we might get beaten, but if he runs a good race and makes the first four then the dream’s still alive to go to Cheltenham.”
Ahoy Senor is set to renew rivalries with a couple of familiar foes at Kempton, having finished second to Bravemansgame in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on the King George undercard 12 months ago and filled the runner-up spot behind L’Homme Presse at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Russell’s charge went on to beat that pair at Aintree in April and the trainer is hopeful Ahoy Senor can improve on his previous two efforts this term, potentially sporting cheekpieces.
“Speaking to Derek, he said the first time he ran this season he was like a bull in a china shop, the next time he said if it had been his first run, he’d have been delighted,” Russell added.
“He came on so much between the first and second runs and we feel he’s come on again since.
“You look at the horses in the race and we’ve beaten them, albeit in the spring on good ground, but I think 33-1 is a very generous price for an each-way bet.
“He’s definitely a horse that keeps improving the more he races and I think that’s why he does well in the spring and probably why he seems to run so well at Aintree.
“We’re going to school him on Thursday with cheekpieces and if that goes well, we’ll try them again on Monday.”
Tingle Creek hero Edwardstone is one of nine possibles for the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Tuesday.
Alan King’s stable star landed the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase on the same December 27 card last season before going on to claim Arkle glory at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Having missed intended outings at Cheltenham and Ascot in November due to ground concerns, the eight-year-old was thrown in at the deep end for his first start out of novice company in the Tingle Creek at Sandown earlier this month, but proved up to the task as he dispatched of Greaneteen and Shishkin.
The biggest threat to Edwardstone next week appears to be Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra, who has been kept fresh since sauntering to success in last month’s Shloer Chase, from which Edwardstone defected.