Tom Lacey is leaning towards the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle next week as he goes in search of his first Cheltenham Festival success with Adrimel.
The six-year-old’s sole defeat in six outings under Rules came in the Champion Bumper at the showpiece meeting 12 months ago.
He booked his return ticket with a gutsy success in the Grade Two Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick in January when conceding a penalty, and Lacey feels a further step up in trip will bring out even more improvement.
“I’d probably be leaning towards the Albert Bartlett (over the Ballymore), because it looks the weaker of the two races, though we will just follow the weather a bit,” he said.
“We will probably confirm him for both races, but I think the Albert Bartlett might be the right race for him. He shouldn’t be taken off his feet going up to three miles, and he should have plenty of time to jump the hurdles.
“I know his win at Haydock was over two miles, but it was only through Richard Johnson’s perseverance that he won.
“He was tenacious last time and he had a 3lb penalty as well, whereas this time he will be meeting them off level weights. You have to earn your right to run in a Grade One, and I think he earned that last time out at Warwick.”
Lacey will also be running Tea Clipper at Cheltenham, with the Coral Cup his most likely target.
“I’d imagine he will go for the Coral Cup, because the owners are keen on that,” he said.
“A fast run two (miles) on the New Course in the County Hurdle would suit, but I think he will end up in the Coral Cup.
“He has had a prep run in an all-weather bumper at Newcastle and he hit the line hard there, so two-five in the Coral Cup shouldn’t be a problem. At Newbury he was disappointing because his jumping just went to bits up the straight for whatever reason, but that wasn’t him.
“He is off a good weight. It is just a case of if he is good enough. He wants a nice surface, so if he gets that I’d think he would have a good each way chance.”