Highland Lodge can go close for trainer Lavelle
Towcester's up and down course is not every horse's cup of tea, but Highland Lodge will hopefully handle the pronounced undulations when running in the Haygain Hay Steamers Healthy Forage Beginners' Chase at the Northampton circuit.
Trainer Emma Lavelle has always held the seven-year-old in the highest regard and declared many times that we would not see the best of him until he was sent over fences on soft ground.
After he ran disappointingly on going too lively at Warwick last January, Lavelle wisely drew stumps with him for the remainder of the season as she considered he would make a better horse with another summer on his back.
He faces a serious test on his first try over fences with the likes of Kasbadali and Red Rocco in opposition, but it will surprise the Lavelle camp if Highland Lodge does not go very close with a clear round.
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November is usually the month that the Nicky Henderson horses start to fire on all cylinders and the master of Seven Barrows has opted for the Weatherbys MaresMaiden Hurdle as her first port of call now she switches to hurdles.
She could not have been more impressive when showing a neat turn of foot to score in her only previous racecourse appearance – a bumper at Southwell where she quickly settled matters when asked.
Obviously, Henderson thinks plenty of her as he has booked champion jockey Tony McCoy to take the ride and the pair should have too much firepower in the closing stages for the opposition on this occasion.
McCoy has a real chance of a double on the card as the Jonjo O'Neill trained Tell Me Y appears to have a great chance in the Agetur UK Handicap Hurdle on his first outing for six months.
Following a Ffos Las victory over hurdles, the five-year-old flopped badly on his next two outings, but he will have prospered from his summer break and O'Neill has opted for fitting cheek pieces for the first time in order to help him concentrate on the matter at hand.
The well bred Ifits A Fiddle could prove to be the answer to the fillies bumper which closes the card for the Richard Phillips/Richard Johnson combination.