Grand National hero Corach Rambler could head straight for the Cheltenham Gold Cup following his creditable third-placed finish in last weekend’s Betfair Chase.
Lucinda Russell’s charge was disappointing on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso in October, but was nevertheless stepped up to Grade One level for the first time at Haydock.
The nine-year-old was ultimately unable to land a telling blow on Merseyside, but Russell’s partner and assistant Peter Scudamore feels there was enough encouragement in the performance to suggest he would be no forlorn hope come Gold Cup day in March.
He said: “I was delighted, I thought he ran a fantastic race. Derek (Fox) thought the ground was a bit soft for him, but he stuck at it well.
“I think he’s got an opportunity of being placed in a Gold Cup. I don’t think he’ll win it, but I think he’s got an opportunity to be placed.
“We’re not quite sure where we’re going between now and then, but personally I think we should do the same as last year – give him a racecourse gallop, go to Cheltenham and then go to Aintree.
“We’ll see how he is, but that’s what I think.”
Corach Rambler has won the Ultima Handicap Chase at each of the last two Cheltenham Festivals and the form of his second victory has been boosted hugely by the runner-up Fastorslow.
Martin Brassil’s stable star went on to beat Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs in the Punchestown Gold Cup before the end of last season, and proved that was no fluke by taking his measure again in last Sunday’s John Durkan at Punchestown.
Scudamore added: “Corach Rambler loves Cheltenham and has performed round well at Cheltenham. He obviously beat Fastorslow last season and the extra two furlongs of the Gold Cup won’t worry him.
“Last year he went to Carlisle, then he finished fourth at Newbury (in the Coral Gold Cup) and then it was a big step up from Newbury to what he did at Cheltenham.
“I think he ran to the same standard as he did at Newbury last year when he ran at Haydock the other day on ground that was possibly softer than he likes.
“I think he’s a worthy runner in the Gold Cup – I don’t think he’d just be turning up for the day out – and I’d be quite happy to go straight there.”