Kayley Woollacott’s stable star Lalor could make a late seasonal comeback as he continues to regain fitness after an absence caused by atrial fibrillation.
The nine-year-old was last seen in January 2020, when he ran with great credit in two Grade Three chases at Cheltenham.
Going down by just a short head in a three-way photo finish in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase, the German-bred gelding then returned to Prestbury Park to finish third by three-quarters of a length in the Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase.
Those performances brought the horse’s campaign to a close, with vets then diagnosing him with an irregular heartbeat just as he was gaining fitness ahead of the current season.
“He was nearly ready to run, late last year, November time I think,” Woollacott explained.
“We wanted to get him out and then he did a flat piece of work, it was a bit of a headscratcher.
“Then we found it pretty quickly, luckily we’ve got a good team of vets and he got treated in early December.”
A period of treatment was followed by a further spell of complications, but Woollacott reports Lalor to be recovering well and in line for a possible late return.
“He had the treatment for the atrial fibrillation, but unfortunately he had a few complications after, which was really unfortunate and really rare,” she said.
“He’s come out of it now and he seems OK. We are going along with him, but we are in a bit of a time battle as to whether we’ll be able to get him out this season or not.
“The one saving grace with him, I suppose, is that he loves good ground so he could go right into the spring. If we just turned up at the Festival or Aintree, he would manage.
“We’re just playing it by ear, he’ll tell us when he’s ready.”
The condition is not uncommon in racehorses and has afflicted other high-class runners such as Paisley Park and Sprinter Sacre.
Paisley Park returned to triumph in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, whereas Sprinter Sacre famously overcame the issue to reclaim his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown in 2015.
Woollacott takes encouragement from both comebacks, saying: “It’s really good to see (Paisley Park) come back, isn’t it?
“Then there’s Sprinter Sacre and the other high-profile horses who have had it, so we’re hopeful.
“Thankfully, his heart’s given him no problems since the treatment, touch wood.”