Katy Price senses the William Hill Becher Chase is the more likely of two options for her stable star Minellacelebration at Aintree.
The 10-year-old also holds an entry in the Many Clouds Chase on Saturday – but that would mean the likelihood of facing Gold Cup runner-up Santini and a former winner of the Cheltenham showpiece, and this race 12 months ago, Native River.
Minellacelebration won the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter in July and a leg of the Veterans’ Chase Series at Aintree last time out, so he will be heading to Merseyside in top form.
Price said: “Minellacelebration is in really good order and heads to Aintree this weekend.
“He can either run in the Many Clouds Chase – where he looks likely to take on Frodon or Native River – or he goes for the Becher Chase. I need to speak to the owner (Nick Elliott) again, but the Becher Chase is where we are leaning towards.
“I think Minellacelebration is in a better place this season. He won nicely at Aintree on the Mildmay Course, and I think he has benefited from a breathing operation.
“We have been careful not to overrun him. We have had to leave some other big races in order to keep him fresh, but it seems to have paid off so far.
“He was travelling well and jumped nicely in the Becher last year, but just got tired. I think given the breathing operation and the form we have him in him at home, we have to be hopeful of a good performance in the Becher, which just looks a more realistic target and our best chance.
“I am praying for it not to rain. We don’t want to run him on very heavy ground – and, at the moment, the weather forecast does not look too bad.
“We are very lucky to be running in December on decent ground, compared to testing conditions, and that will suit him. As long as the ground doesn’t get too testing, I think he has a really good chance.
“It is hugely exciting for a yard like ours to have a runner in one of the biggest races, and we are looking forward to seeing how he gets on.”