Victor Dartnall would dearly love to have got a prep run into Giles Cross as his 11-year-old bids to make it third-time lucky in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.
Runner-up to Synchronised two years ago, the confirmed mudlark was also second to Le Beau Bai last season. However, an outbreak of equine herpes at Dartnall's Barnstaple yard in early November saw the Dorset stable shut down for around six weeks, with six equine fatalities.
Dartnall told At The Races: "He seems very well. He went well on Tuesday in his final piece of work and I'm very happy with him."
He added: "He hasn't had a run this year. We've come out of a dreadful situation, which is a worry. The horses haven't been running consistently, but he seems very well and everything should suit him at Chepstow.
"We moved him away during the height of the equine herpes outbreak we had and he escaped it. Very often, horses will need a run to cope with the awful ground we are getting at the moment.
"Having said that, it's the ground Giles Cross loves. He's hopeless on anything else so let's keep our fingers crossed. If I was going into the race with the yard in form I would be feeling very hopeful. The plan was to give him a run at Haydock but we couldn't as that was when it all happened and we had to close down for six weeks."
Monbeg Dude gave fledgling trainer Michael Scudamore a first Cheltenham winner when landing a Grade Three in November from 1lb out of the handicap.
Son of champion jockey Peter and brother of top rider Tom, locally-based Scudamore has booked crack Irish pilot Paul Carberry for the ride on his eight-year-old, who remains relatively unexposed over fences.
He said: "Perhaps it's not a vintage Welsh National if you look at the ratings. In years gone by, he could have struggled to get in, so that has to give you confidence. Looking at the market, he's beaten Teaforthree and Viking Blond around Cheltenham.
"He'll have to step up again having been put up 7lb, but I'm hoping mentally as well as anything he'll have come on for that. I see no reason why he couldn't come on a little bit more."
23 November 2014Balbriggan all the way
Un De Sceaux set for Thurles
Vautour off to impressive start
Melodic team face tough choice
Henderson aims at Listed prize
Croco in frame for Topham
Belle set for hurdling campaign
Deputy in Kempton firing line
McBratney banks on Boy progress
Silvi scraps to Betfair glory
Bally sparkles on Mullins' big day
Kelly's a Fixed Brush hero
Faugheen turns on the style
Fenton banned for three years
Amlin double for fab Ferof
New One excels in Haydock romp
Flyer grounds Ascot rivals
Vasco a cut above opposition
22 November 2014Conti strikes Betfair Chase gold
Taken seeking Listed gold
Mogol facing Monksfield test
Vautour makes chasing bow
Gordon enjoys Dundalk spin
McCoy: Landmark swayed judgment
Jacob warms up with brace
Hill peaking for Troytown return
Billy back on winning track
Walsh back for Ferof ride
New ready for Haydock Rush
Cheltenham is Big aim
Mullins eager for Faugheen run
Cue primed for Betfair defence
21 November 2014Geraghty snapped up for Seuil
Volnay aiming for quick repeat
Argocat camp play it cool
Leading Light retired
Frankel filly breaks Irish record
Linton loses Listed place
Doubles for Pipe and Scudamore
Nasty spill for Insole
McCoy targets midweek return
Farm comes Home to roost at Thurles
Flemenstar future dictated by scan
Cue lined up for Haydock return
20 November 2014McNamara joy at turning pro
Volnay seeking Mersey paradise
Sloane Avenue books Dubai date
Spencer reveals Qatar riding snub
Doyle ready for Godolphin challenge
Good news at Huntingdon
BHA hear Linton case
Avenue shows winning way
Grugy diagnosed with hip issue
Meade plots Monksland comeback
Ptit secures swift double
Shanes shines in hurdles win
Mullins' stars set for weekend runs
Haydock aim for Aurore
Medermit in Betfair contention