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."
20 December 2014Henderson pleased with big guns
Mulholland serves up Master-class
Bayan bags big Ascot prize
Broadway proves a show-stopper
Three Long Walks for super Sivola
Queen wears Listed crown
Nicholls strikes with Saint
Sceaux puts in impressive show
Silvi the star turn in King George
Sceaux puts in impressive show
Geraghty enthused by Bobs work
Walsh pain at Vautour defection
Billy puffing his chest out again
Master back in the spotlight
Grugy in line to start cantering
Newland seeks more from Re
Prize money boost in HRI initiative
Zig zips to impressive victory
New steroids policy delayed
Serge states Supreme case
Exciting Sceaux out at Fairyhouse
Firebird skips National service
19 December 2014Martin readying big guns
Hobbs on Garde at Ascot
Fry excited by Activial chance
The New One in Haydock return
Reve camp not expecting a hat-trick
King issues Chatez Triumph warning
Bolger searching for Mossey key
King weighs up Karezak options
Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
18 December 2014Alvarado back for National service
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
Power plan uncertain for Westener
Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
Mullins: Fever can go the distance
17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
Lexus a non-starter for Clouds
Europe return hinges on ground
Injury woe for Cookson
Plans on hold for Topper
Appeal success for Russell/Enright
Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum