Grade One pair Ahoy Senor and Apple Away due to run at Wetherby's Charlie Hall Chase meeting
Ahoy Senor disappointed in the Charlie Hall Chase itself last season, but will be given the option of contesting the Grade Two feature once again, with the bet365 Hurdle being considered as a possible alternative.
The eight-year-old went on to prove his worth in the second half of the last campaign, winning the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January and signing off with a runner-up finish behind Shishkin in the Aintree Bowl.
“Ahoy Senor is getting himself ready for Wetherby, that’s the plan,” said Russell.
“He might get an entry in both races (Charlie Hall and bet365 Hurdle). We’ll see how he goes this weekend and that’ll give us a better idea.”
Apple Away won four of her seven starts over hurdles for William Hill ambassador Russell last season, including a Grade One victory in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in the spring.
The six-year-old is set to embark on a novice chasing campaign this season and with connections having decided against a trip to Cheltenham, she could instead head to turn out next week.
Russell added: “She’s in good form and she might go to Wetherby.
“She’s been schooling really well, but it a combination of things led to us deciding against going to Cheltenham this weekend and we felt we’d try to find something a little bit quieter.”
Meanwhile, Russell expects to have a clearer idea of what the rest of the season has in store for her Grand National hero Corach Rambler after he makes his reappearance at Kelso today.
A 13lb rise in the weights means the nine-year-old kicks off the new campaign with a lofty mark of 159, potentially putting him in the realms of being a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
“It’s the start of the season and I think with a lot of these horses that we’re running just now, how they run now will dictate what we do for the rest of the year with them.
“At this time last year we hadn’t even thought of the Grand National with Corach Rambler and he ended up winning it, so let’s just see he how he performs and that will give us an idea what we do next.”
Flooring Porter is the star attraction at Cheltenham on Saturday as the dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner returns to the Cotswolds to make his debut over fences.
Gavin Cromwell’s stable star produced two tremendous front-running performances to lift the three-mile hurdling crown in 2021 and 2022, but could finish only fourth when bidding for the hat-trick in March.
The eight-year-old subsequently finished third at Aintree before failing to make an impact in the French Champion Hurdle, and Cromwell feels the time has come to switch to the larger obstacles.
“He’s jumped well at home so hopefully he can transfer that to the track,” he said.
“He was running well last season, but he didn’t win at all and we just thought he still had a bit of time on his side and he can always go back (over hurdles) if it doesn’t work out for him over fences.”
Flooring Porter will be a warm order to dispatch of three rivals in the William Hill Lengthen Your Odds Novices’ Chase, with Henry de Bromhead’s Toss Again and the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained pair of Weveallbeencaught and Broadway Boy taking him on.
Cromwell added: “It’s a small field, but it’s not a bad race and while I won’t say he has to put his best foot forward, he’ll have to be doing things right to be winning.”
Proceedings get under way with the £60,000 Epic Value At William Hill Handicap Chase, in which Laura Morgan saddles the top-weight Notlongtillmay.
The seven-year-old enjoyed an excelle