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."
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