Midnight Shadow is reported to be in fine shape as he goes for a rare double by winning the Racing Post Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The Sue Smith-trained eight-year-old overcame a mistake at the final fence to lift the Paddy Power Gold Cup by three-quarters of a length from Protektorat, who has since franked the form with a facile triumph in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree.
Midnight Shadow has to defy a 7lb rise in the ratings for his victory that will not make life easy in his bid to win a second prestigious handicap chase at the home of jump racing and achieve a feat last accomplished by Exotic Dancer in 2006.
“He’s in good form to go there and hopefully he’ll run a very good race,” said Smith.
“It would be marvellous if he could win it but it’s a different race, different day. He loves it round there so we’re really hoping for a very big run from him.”
Paul Nicholls is hoping a pair of cheekpieces can give Lalor an extra boost following a promising effort in the Paddy Power.
The nine-year-old ran his best race for some time when third behind Midnight Shadow on what was his first run since his move from Kayley Woollacott’s stable.
“He ran a race full of promise on his debut for us in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, staying on strongly to finish third just behind Protektorat, who franked the form with an impressive win at Aintree on Saturday,” Nicholls told Betfair.
“He hadn’t finished a race for 22 months, so to run like that after loads of problems was really encouraging. He seems to have come on since then and schooled great on Thursday morning.
“One of Lalor’s best runs came at Cheltenham in cheekpieces on New Year’s day 2020, so I’m putting them on again to sharpen him up a little bit because Harry Cobden felt he raced a touch lazily.”
Coole Cody came down at the second-last when still going well in front in the Paddy Power.
He had won that race last year and his trainer Evan Williams is hoping the 10-year-old can bounce back.
“He ran a great race last time, a smashing race. It’s always difficult when you’ve had a fall to come back to another big race, but he’s a tough old genuine boy and it’s fingers crossed he’ll go well again,” said Williams.
“There’s a big difference in the two courses at Cheltenham. And there is no doubt his best form is on the other track. It’s a big pot so let’s give it a go.”
Alan King feels Deyrann De Carjac has come on for his comeback after five months off when when not disgraced in ninth place in the Paddy Power.
“He was only beaten nine lengths in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the November meeting, a race which will have sharpened him up,” the Barbury Castle trainer told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
“Deyrann de Carjac was staying on all the way up the run-in, having been forced to go flat to the boards from the off. He jumped well, having been short of match practice, and I think he’ll build on that run with a race behind him.”
Fergal O’Brien would like to see some rain fall ahead of the race to boost Silver Hallmark’s prospects. The seven-year-old shaped well on his first start for nine months when fourth to Fiddlerontheroof at Carlisle six weeks ago.
“Hopefully we’ll get a bit more rain and it’s fingers crossed. He just needs a bit more rain and a bit of luck and all the rest of it,” said O’Brien.
“It turned out a nice race at Carlisle. If we get the rain, we’d be hopeful of a good run.”