Richard Bandey would be happy for the current wet spell to continue for the next month ahead of Diesel D’Allier’s bid for Cheltenham Festival glory.
The Hampshire-based trainer has a major contender on his hands in the cross-country specialist, who is being primed for the Glenfarclas Chase.
Diesel D’Allier has already had runs for Bandey around the unique circuit this season – finishing a close-up third in November before relishing the extra juice in the ground when beating Potters Corner by a nose the following month.
The nine-year-old also won at Cheltenham in 2019 for French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux and finished fourth behind Easysland at the Festival that season.
Bandey said: “Fingers crossed it keeps raining! We’ve just been messing around on the farm keeping him fresh and well and we’re just picking things up a bit more now.
“He’s in great form and we just hope for some soft ground. We go there with a great chance of finishing in the top six and anything more than that is a bonus.”
Bandey also provided an update on one of the other stars of his Plantation Farm stable, Saint Palais.
The Mandarin Chase winner failed in his attempt for a four-timer when bringing up the rear behind Ahoy Senor in Wetherby’s Grade Two Towton Novices’ Chase.
“He’s come out of Wetherby really well. You could look at it and think it was disappointing, but I wasn’t – I thought he ran a great race until five out,” Bandey added.
“It wasn’t a race run to his strengths. Ahoy Senor turned it into a sprint in the home straight and it probably took a five-year-old off his feet as its probably the fastest he’s gone over the last four fences in a race.
“Harry (Bannister) said he was very happy turning for home and thought if he jumped four out really well then he would be in with a squeak.
“If they had gone a good, serious gallop throughout, I think he would have been in with every chance.”
Bandey plans to keep the five-year-old to handicap company for the rest of the season before switching back to the smaller obstacles next term.
He said: “We had to have a go at the Grade Two and I’m glad we did. We will look now to run in a few of the handicaps at the back-end of the season to give him another run or two. Maybe Uttoxeter or Aintree, something like that.
“Next year it will be hurdles as a novice all being well, targeting all those staying races.
“He’s a small horse that I don’t want to overface over fences next year when he’s in amongst the really big boys. It was very evident in the paddock at Wetherby, seeing him walk round compared to the others, that he’s on the small side.
“I don’t think he’s going to get much bigger, but with maturity I do think he’ll come back a stronger horse next season.”
A well-known name who recently joined the Bandey team is Mister Malarky, who could be set for another crack at the three-mile Coral Trophy at Kempton on Saturday.
The nine-year-old, formerly trained by Colin Tizzard, won the Kempton race in 2020 and was third behind Clondaw Castle last year.
Having disappointed in three previous outings this season, his rating has fallen to a mark 8lb lower than his last chase success.
“We’re definitely considering Kempton. Mr and Mrs Hezel (owners) live near to me and just wanted to have the horse closer, which is why he has come to us,” said Bandey.
“I was desperate to get a last piece of work into him, but that looks like being put on hold because of the weather. So, we will assess how he is and if he’s ready, we’ll head to Kempton.”