Tendon injury sidelines De Rasher Counter for the season

De Rasher Counter has been ruled out for the season due to a tendon injury.

Emma Lavelle’s chaser was being prepared to defend his Ladbrokes Trophy title at Newbury later this month after finishing second on his seasonal bow over hurdles at Newton Abbot in October.

However, the eight-year-old has suffered a setback and Lavelle feels the best course of action is to draw stumps for the whole campaign.

“He just had a bit of heat in his near-fore (leg) this morning,” said Lavelle.

“He is 100 per cent sound, but I just wasn’t happy with it. Our vet came in and scanned it and there’s a mark on the tendon, so that’s the end of our defence – for this year anyway.

“It’s not the end of the world, these things happen, but it’s a kick in the teeth.

“He’ll miss the whole season because if we try to bring him back earlier and it doesn’t work, then we’ll miss longer, so if we bite the bullet and take the sensible route, it’s the best thing.

“He’s only eight, he’s a lovely horse, so it makes sense to give him time and bring him back when there’s a bit more normality in the world.”

Topofthegame on course for Ladbrokes Trophy return

Topofthegame remains on target to return to action in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on November 28.

Paul Nicholls’ charge won the RSA Chase in 2019 before finishing second at Aintree in April that year, but he missed last term after sustaining a leg injury.

Despite the financial constraints currently prevalent due to the pandemic, the race is being run at a value of £200,000 and 39 horses have been entered.

“We remain on target with Topofthegame, with the plan to go straight for the Ladbrokes Trophy,” said Nicholls.

“We’ll probably take advantage of the invitation to gallop him at Newbury in mid-November as part of their official gallops morning.

“The prize-money on offer for the big race and across the two days is very good considering the current climate.”

Last year’s winner De Rasher Counter, trained by Emma Lavelle, will be aiming to become the first back-to-back winner of the race since Arkle.

De Rasher Counter (right) provided Ben Jones with a big win in the race last year
De Rasher Counter (right) provided Ben Jones with a big win in the race last year (Nigel French/PA)

“De Rasher had a nice warm-up when coming second off top weight in a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot a couple of weeks ago, which was a little earlier than we had originally planned,” said Lavelle.

“We are looking forward to running him again in the Ladbrokes Trophy, as well as Paisley Park, who will make his seasonal appearance in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle on the Friday.

“The whole weekend last year was quite amazing and all being well, both horses will be back defending their titles in just a few weeks’ time.”

Colin Tizzard’s Copperhead is second favourite behind Topofthegame, who heads the sponsor’s betting at 5-1.

Kim Bailey’s pair of Imperial Aura and Vinndication are prominent with The Conditional, Black Op and Kildisart others to note. There are no Irish-trained entries for the race.

Paisley Park ‘loving life’ as Newbury return nears

Emma Lavelle reports stable star Paisley Park in rude health as he prepares to  return to competitive action at Newbury next month.

The eight-year-old was the hot favourite to extend his winning sequence to eight by successfully defending his crown in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March – but he finished a well-beaten seventh, after which he was found to have an irregular heartbeat.

While the problem ultimately rectified itself, Paisley Park continues to wear a heart monitor during some of his work at home – and there has been no recurrence of the issue since he returned from a summer break.

Lavelle said: “Touch wood, everything has been brilliant since he came back in. I’m really happy with him, and everything seems to be happening the way it should.

“I think it (heart monitor) is a useful tool, just to make sure everything is as it should be.

“He had his first trip up the grass on Thursday and is loving life.”

With a defence of his crown in the Long Distance Hurdle first on Paisley Park’s agenda, Marlborough-based Lavelle is optimistic that he can bounce back to his brilliant best this term.

She added: “He’s really fresh and well – and funnily enough, he’s actually been easier to get fit this time around than he was last year.

“Newbury is very much the plan, and it would be nice if we can get a racecourse gallop into him at some stage, hopefully at Newbury.

“It would be nice to get him back on the track, just in case he has any nasty memories of racing from Cheltenham.”

It is set to be a big weekend for the team at Newbury next month, with De Rasher Counter also firmly on course to bid for back-to-back wins in the Ladbrokes Trophy.

De Rasher Counter wins the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury
De Rasher Counter wins the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (Nigel French/PA)

Following his victory of last year, De Rasher Counter ran in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham before being pulled up in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter, but he made a promising return when runner-up over hurdles at Newton Abbot a couple of weeks ago.

“I was absolutely delighted with him the other day,” said Lavelle.

“It was a fair effort, because he was trying to give two and a half stone to the horse that beat him (Sammylou) – and touch wood, he’s come out of that well.

“He looks great, and Newbury is very much the plan – he’s actually only 6lb higher than when he won the race last year, because of the way things worked out.

“It would have been nice to have kept stepping up. But nicer ground is important to him, and it was just bottomless after Newbury, and he never really got the chance to show his true ability.

“What that did do is bring him down a few pounds in the weights, so we’re probably not in a bad position going into the Ladbrokes Trophy this time around.”