Lucinda Russell will map out a plan towards the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase for impressive Newbury winner Ahoy Senor, with Warwick or Lingfield pencilled in for his next run.
The six-year-old scorched to a 31-length victory in a Grade Two on Saturday and has been handed an official rating of 157 by the assessor.
Eight-time champion jockey Peter Scudamore, Russell’s partner and assistant, says Ahoy Senor – known as ‘Hank’ in the Kinross yard, has taken his race well.
“He exercised on Tuesday morning and seems pleased with himself,” said Scudamore.
“Looking at the race objectively, you could argue that none of his three rivals gave their true running, the favourite (Mr Incredible) making mistakes, but you can argue that reflects favourably on ‘Hank’, who had them in trouble from some way out.
“I hope the others did perform to their level, but he is still an inexperienced horse and he should continue to learn with racing. He produced a visually stunning performance to run out a wide-margin winner on only his second start over fences.
“His jumping is still a work in progress and ‘Hank’ is inclined to go out to his right and got in tight at a couple, notably the water, but when he meets a fence on a stride, his scope is something to behold and his fencing did improve as the race went on.
“Perhaps one or, ideally, two more starts should hopefully provide the perfect preparation for Cheltenham. The Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase is what we can start working back from.”
The Grade Two McCoy Contractors Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick on January 15 has been pencilled in for Ahoy Senor’s next start, although a trip to Lingfield is also a possibility.
Scudamore added: “He will have an entry at Kempton (Kauto Star Novices’ Chase), but I think our preference is probably Warwick or Lingfield. We will probably have to keep an eye on the ground.
“I didn’t run him at Hexham because the ground was probably on the quicker side. It was lovely ground at Aintree and the rain helped at Newbury. I was worried that he might be better on good to soft, and obviously the welfare of the horse is paramount.
“We will probably go to Warwick or Lingfield and then go to Cheltenham. With Warwick, the timing is perfect – two months from Cheltenham. But we will have to look at the weather forecast.
“It makes you realise how well the likes of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson make things look so easy and silky to get their big horses ready for Cheltenham. It is an art.
“The decision-making and the timing is important with these horses and I take my hat off to them.”
Scudamore’s immediate reaction that the horse would be rated around 171 after his victory was tempered by the assessor, who handed Ahoy Senor a mark of 157.
He added: “We are hopefully at the beginning of a exciting journey. His rating seems of little importance at the moment and there is nothing I can do about others’ thoughts of his performance.”