Lucy Wadham’s dreams of saddling a runner in this year’s Crabbie’s Grand National moved a significant step closer following the victory of Le Reve at Sandown on Saturday.
The Moulton Paddocks handler has claimed that her aspirations to run the eight-year-old in the world famous Aintree marathon, on April 9, is very much alive after he posted his second successive victory in the Betfred Masters Handicap Chase at the Esher track.
Aided by a set of blinkers, the son of Milan travelled well throughout the three-mile prize in the hands of Harry Skelton before bounding away after the last to clinch a two- and-a-quarter length victory and open his account for the campaign.
“The Grand National dream is still alive and I think that’s where we are looking at going,” said Wadham.
“The obvious race is the bet365 Chase back at Sandown in April, but I’d love to have a crack at the National and I think this is the year for him. It will be massively competitive, but we might as well have a go. I was hoping to give him an outing over the Aintree fences beforehand but nothing has gone quite according to plan, but lots of horses have run in the National without going over the fences before. That will probably be it now and I would think we will wait for the National.”
Looking back on his victory at Sandown, which arrived just a week after he finished sixth in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster and was his first since undergoing a breathing operation, Wadham was quick to praise the performance of the winning jockey.
“He didn’t have much of a race at Doncaster and as he came out of it really well we didn’t want to miss an opportunity at Sandown. He was carrying more weight in the race than last year so it was a good performance,” said Wadham.
“It was a great ride from Harry Skelton. He said he thought he was going to win as soon as they started and that is a nice feeling for a jockey to have. He got him into a nice rhythm and jumped well.”
n It is all systems go for a shot at the coral.co.uk Winter Derby at Lingfield later in the month for the Marco Botti-trained Grendisar.
The Group Three prize on February 27, will be next for the six-year-old after he recorded back-to-back victories in the coral.co.uk Winter Derby Trial Stakes at the track on Saturday.
“I am delighted that Grendisar has put his head in front this time. Everything went well and in his favour - it was a nice, even tempo and he picked up well,” said the Newmarket handler.
“He got the job done and we will head for the Winter Derby again.”