Clondaw Castle will sidestep Festival en route to Aintree

Tom George has decided to skip the Ultima Handicap Chase next week with Clondaw Castle and instead target the Betway Bowl at Aintree.

The nine-year-old gave George a third win in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton last month on what was his first run over three miles.

With a new rating of 160, George has drawn comparisons with former stable star Nacarat – who won the Kempton race in 2009 before going on to finish a close third in the Melling Chase at Aintree the same season.

“We’re going to wait for Aintree,” said the Cotswolds trainer.

“It (top weight) would be a very tough ask in a race like the Ultima, so we’ll go for the Bowl over three miles.

“He’s basically got the same sort of profile as Nacarat had at the same stage – that’s what we did with him, stepped him up in class, so we’ll keep him fresh for that.”

Clondaw Castle had continued to please his trainer since his victory last month.

“He’s amazing, because he seems to be improving again,” George added.

“Kempton hardly took anything out of him – he only lost three kilos.

“He seems to have really stepped his game up again and he came out of the race very well.

“We always thought he would improve for going up in trip, but you always like to see it happen when it does.

“He’s rated 160 now, so he’s ready for the next step up.”

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