A tilt at the Crabbies Grand National for the 2011 Gold Cup winner has long been on the cards, but Waley-Cohen is keen to take in another valuable handicap first with Nicky Henderson’s charge falling down the ratings.
The horse was disappointing in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase before a lacklustre run in Haydock’s Betfair Chase. He then unseated the owner’s son Sam at the last fence in the William Hill King George VI Chase on Boxing Day when well-beaten.
Waley-Cohen said: “Owner, jockey and trainer all have different ideas where the horse should go next. But I’m fairly hopeful I’ll get my way, in which case he’ll be heading back to Kempton. He’s got a great record at the track and he’s now 19lb lower than at his peak two seasons ago.
“Handicaps are an attractive option again now his rating is coming down. The Kempton race is worth a lot of money so I’d be keen for him to take his chance.
“It’s the same with the Grand National. Two years ago we wouldn’t have dreamt of running him in the race, but now I’d doubt if he’d even be top weight.”
n Weather is beginning to play havoc with the fixture list – today’s card at Southwell must pass an inspection while Taunton’s fuxture is a victim of a waterlogging.
Tomorrow’s card at Chepstow is already off, while an 8am inspection today will determine prospects for jumping action at Leicester.
Meetings later in the week at Ludlow, Fontwell and Huntingdon are already in doubt, though Doncaster report no problems ahead of Wednesday’s card.
n North Yorkshire jockey Brian Hughes remains on course for a career-best season courtesy of a Newcastle treble aboard Dingo Bay, Retrieve the Stick and Oleohneh. The latter pair are trained at Malton by Malcolm Jefferson and leave the rider on the 54-winner mark, 11 short of the 65 victories that he recorded three years ago.
Meanwhile, the victory of Total Assets at the meeting was the first success for trainer Simon Waugh in six years and took Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania’s tally to 31 for the season, equalling his personal best of 2009-10 when a conditional at Howard Johnson’s yard.
n Perfect Pleasure will be stepped up in class after winning a sixth successive race for Sheriff Hutton trainer Mick Easterby when prevailing on the all-weather at Lingfield under a fine Adam Kirby ride.
The four-year-old is unbeaten since being fitted with a visor and has improved 36lb. Easterby’s son and assistant David said: “He is an absolute belter.
“I have no idea where we’ll go with him next.
“But there is plenty of prize money going around so we’re going to try to get it.”
n The in-form trainer Venetia Williams and jockey Aidan Coleman won the first four races at Plumpton yesterday, while the At The Races Sussex National went to Reblis and the father and son team of Gary and Joshua Moore.
n Bryan Cooper has his first significant ride since being appointed as the new number one jockey for Gigginstown House Stud when he partners Toner D’Oudairies in the Thurles Racecourse Supporters Club Chase on Monday.
Cooper described his appointment as a “great honour” when it was confirmed on Friday that he would replace Davy Russell, a former stable jockey to Ferdy Murphy.