Brian Ellison is anticipating a big run from Windsor Avenue in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup after the eight-year-old’s encouraging return at Carlisle.
Windsor Avenue began his campaign by finishing a two-and-a-half-length runner-up to the highly-progressive Imperial Aura in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at the start of last month.
He has been allotted an initial weight of 11st 3lb, with Harry Whittington’s Cheltenham Festival winner Simply The Betts and Paul Nicholls’ Master Tommytucker topping the list on 11st 12lb for next week’s big Cheltenham handicap.
Ellison reports Windsor Avenue has benefited from wind surgery, after an early end to his promising novice-chase campaign in January.
The Malton trainer said: “At the moment, Windsor Avenue definitely runs in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
“He won his first two chases nicely last season, and then he had a problem with his wind.
“We eventually sorted that over the summer – he had a soft palate hobday – and we were very pleased with what saw at Carlisle for a first run back.”
Cheltenham Festival winner Imperial Aura has since taken his successful sequence to three, with a Grade Two triumph at Ascot, and is being touted as a major contender for next year’s Ryanair Chase.
Windsor Avenue received 4lb from his Carlisle conqueror, and Ellison added: “Overall, I thought the Colin Parker looked a good race – and the form seems to be working out that way, given what the winner did at Ascot.
“That run definitely brought our lad on a bit, and it will be interesting to see how gets on in a handicap. Touch wood, his jumping is great, and he won’t be ridden too far away anyway.
“I will be going there expecting a big run, because I think a lot of him – and always have done.”
Among his potential rivals over two and a half miles on December 12, Evan Williams’ shock Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Coole Cody (10st 12lb) may return in search of a famous double.
Kerry Lee’s mare Happy Diva (11st 4lb) was the 2019 Paddy Power winner, and still in contention when falling two out in defence of her crown last month.
Recent Newbury winners Clondaw Castle (11st 10lb) and Caribean Boy (11st 9lb) are also of obvious note – as are Ascot scorers First Flow (11st 9lb) and Espoir De Guye (11st 5lb).