Tom Lacey is confident he has Kimberlite Candy in prime condition for next month’s Randox Grand National.
The nine-year-old, prominent in the ante-post market for the Aintree showpiece, has often shown he can go well fresh.
Lacey is therefore not too concerned about Kimberlite Candy’s absence since finishing second in the Becher Chase over the National fences in December.
Plan A was to have one more run through the winter, but Kimberlite Candy was not quite at the top of his game for a possible return in last month’s Swinley Chase at Ascot.
His Herefordshire trainer then made a late decision to swerve the Premier Chase at Kelso, won impressively by Cloth Cap – who took a stranglehold on the Aintree betting as a result.
Kimberlite Candy is in rude health at home, as his big target approaches.
“He’s very well,” said Lacey.
“He went for an away day (on Monday), galloped two miles on grass – and did it really well.
“You could just see in his eyes and his skin he’s really coming to himself now.”
Kimberlite Candy has had just one run since his emphatic success in the 2020 Classic Chase at Warwick 14 months ago.
“He is (good fresh),” Lacey added.
“(But) I had him in a race at Ascot and I wasn’t happy with him (to run).
“Then we had him in a race at Kelso, and we decided to drop travelling overnight to race up there on a sharp track.
“We decided, in a competitive race like that, it wasn’t a necessity.
“Yes, it would have been nice to have had a run. But not so if you’d gone and had a disappointing run on the wrong track, in the wrong race.
“We think he’s a dour stayer. In that grade, he’s going to be taken off his feet in three-mile competitive handicap chases.”
Lacey is therefore satisfied that he made the correct marginal decision.
He said: “To go to Aintree on the back of a poor run, through no fault of the horse’s, for me the advantages of not running outstripped the advantages of running.
“In this day and age, we can all get them fit at home.”
Five of Kimberlite Candy’s six career victories under rules have come on ground described as either soft or heavy, but Lacey does not believe he will need an Aintree bog over an extended four-and-a-quarter miles.
“It’s four miles two,” he said.
“If it’s safe, good to soft ground – which it will be – you’re going to have to stay.
“I’d like to think we can ride a race on him – I don’t want him being forced early on.
“I’d like to see him creeping into it and doing his best work at the end.
“He has raced prominently in the Becher, but he’s got an extra mile and a bit to go this time.
“So he doesn’t need to be ridden that aggressively. I don’t think he does.”
Cloth Cap has been promoted to an unusually short price since his Kelso win.
Lacey is among the many who could not help but be impressed by Jonjo O’Neill’s vastly-improved chaser this season.
But he added: “I certainly wouldn’t be frightened of one in a field of 40.
“He’s got to go and jump round Aintree.
“His jumping has been so clean, and Jonjo will have him well-prepped for it, but he’s still got to do it.
“Of course the horse demands respect – he’s been very impressive. But he needs his luck in running too.
“He isn’t going to be allowed off on the front end like he has done his previous two runs.
“He’s going to be hassled, horses around him, a very different test.”