Lacey sweet on Kimberlite Candy chance

Tom Lacey is confident he has Kimberlite Candy in prime condition for next month’s Randox Grand National.

The nine-year-old, prominent in the ante-post market for the Aintree showpiece, has often shown he can go well fresh.

Lacey is therefore not too concerned about Kimberlite Candy’s absence since finishing second in the Becher Chase over the National fences in December.

Plan A was to have one more run through the winter, but Kimberlite Candy was not quite at the top of his game for a possible return in last month’s Swinley Chase at Ascot.

His Herefordshire trainer then made a late decision to swerve the Premier Chase at Kelso, won impressively by Cloth Cap – who took a stranglehold on the Aintree betting as a result.

Kimberlite Candy is in rude health at home, as his big target approaches.

“He’s very well,” said Lacey.

“He went for an away day (on Monday), galloped two miles on grass – and did it really well.

“You could just see in his eyes and his skin he’s really coming to himself now.”

Kimberlite Candy has had just one run since his emphatic success in the 2020 Classic Chase at Warwick 14 months ago.

Trainer Tom Lacey and jockey Richie McLernon after Kimberlite Candy's victory in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick
Trainer Tom Lacey and jockey Richie McLernon after Kimberlite Candy’s victory in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick (Steven Paston/PA)
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“He is (good fresh),” Lacey added.

“(But) I had him in a race at Ascot and I wasn’t happy with him (to run).

“Then we had him in a race at Kelso, and we decided to drop travelling overnight to race up there on a sharp track.

“We decided, in a competitive race like that, it wasn’t a necessity.

“Yes, it would have been nice to have had a run. But not so if you’d gone and had a disappointing run on the wrong track, in the wrong race.

“We think he’s a dour stayer. In that grade, he’s going to be taken off his feet in three-mile competitive handicap chases.”

Lacey is therefore satisfied that he made the correct marginal decision.

He said: “To go to Aintree on the back of a poor run, through no fault of the horse’s, for me the advantages of not running outstripped the advantages of running.

“In this day and age, we can all get them fit at home.”

Five of Kimberlite Candy’s six career victories under rules have come on ground described as either soft or heavy, but Lacey does not believe he will need an Aintree bog over an extended four-and-a-quarter miles.

“It’s four miles two,” he said.

“If it’s safe, good to soft ground – which it will be – you’re going to have to stay.

“I’d like to think we can ride a race on him – I don’t want him being forced early on.

“I’d like to see him creeping into it and doing his best work at the end.

“He has raced prominently in the Becher, but he’s got an extra mile and a bit to go this time.

“So he doesn’t need to be ridden that aggressively. I don’t think he does.”

Cloth Cap has been promoted to an unusually short price since his Kelso win.

Lacey is among the many who could not help but be impressed by Jonjo O’Neill’s vastly-improved chaser this season.

But he added: “I certainly wouldn’t be frightened of one in a field of 40.

Jonjo O'Neill's Cloth Cap has been a revelation in his last two runs
Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloth Cap has been a revelation in his last two runs (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s got to go and jump round Aintree.

“His jumping has been so clean, and Jonjo will have him well-prepped for it, but he’s still got to do it.

“Of course the horse demands respect – he’s been very impressive. But he needs his luck in running too.

“He isn’t going to be allowed off on the front end like he has done his previous two runs.

“He’s going to be hassled, horses around him, a very different test.”

Adrimel given Warwick aim by Tom Lacey

Tom Lacey is confident Adrimel can take a step up in trip and class in his stride in the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle.

The five-year-old will put his unbeaten record over hurdles on the line in the two-mile-five Grade Two contest at Warwick on Saturday.

Adrimel, whose sole defeat under rules came in last season’s Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, followed up his debut victory over hurdles at Sandown with a game success at Haydock last month.

Lacey said: “He won’t be going back to Haydock and the plan all being well is to go to Warwick for the Grade Two there.

“He wants plenty of give in the ground so it should be ideal for him there.

“This is a big step up in trip but it should be to his advantage.

“It just shows what a good horse he is that he has been winning over two miles.”

Although Adrimel was a late absentee in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last weekend, the Herefordshire handler reports his rising star to be in good order.

He said: “I just wasn’t happy with him and I’ve had one or two horses that I’ve not been entirely happy with.

“If you are going to go into a Grade One you need to be 110 per cent but he seems fine now.”

Kimberlite Candy will continue his preparation for the Grand National with an outing at Ascot next month (Steven Paston/PA Images)
Kimberlite Candy will continue his preparation for the Grand National with an outing at Ascot next month (Steven Paston/PA Images)

Leading Randox Health Grand National contender Kimberlite Candy remains on course to make his next start in the Listed Keltbray Swinley Chase at Ascot on February 20.

The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old filled the runner’s up spot on his return to action for the second season in succession over the famous Grand National fences at Aintree in last month’s Becher Chase.

Lacey said: “Kimberlite Candy is in great nick. I’ve spoken to Mr McManus and his team and he will run at Ascot in a three-mile handicap after the National weights are out.

“Even though he was beaten 24 lengths, I didn’t expect him to get dropped by the handicapper as he picked up a good prize for second.”

Lacey sweet on Becher bid for Kimberlite Candy

Tom Lacey has another Becher Chase bid in mind for last year’s runner-up Kimberlite Candy.

The eight-year-old finished two and a half lengths behind dual Becher hero Walk In The Mill in the three-and-a-quarter-mile contest 12 months ago.

Lacey is now planning to return to Aintree on December 5 to take on the same race over the National fences.

“He’ll go for the Becher Chase, he’s in great nick, we’re really pleased with him,” he said.

“I’d have to refresh my memory, I think he went up for winning the Classic Chase and then he got another 2lb when The Conditional won at the Festival. That leaves him several pounds higher than he was going into the Becher Chase last season.”

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After his Becher performance and an emphatic win in the Grade Three Classic Chase at Warwick, Lacey’s charge looked like a Grand National contender before the meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lacey has the marathon race pencilled in once again for the JP McManus-owned gelding, providing the Aintree going conditions are sufficiently soft.

“It would be the plan, but I think we’d be reliant on a wet spring,” he said.

“I think he would have run last year, it was drying up beforehand and the weather was just going against us initially, but they do a very good job of watering at Aintree.

“I think you see the best of him with some juice in the ground.”

Sebastopol (right) is heading for the Greatwood Hurdle
Sebastopol (right) is heading for the Greatwood Hurdle (Jeff Holmes/PA)

The Woolhope handler plans to give Scottish County Hurdle winner Sebastopol an outing in the Grade Three Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday.

He said: “I’m very keen to have a go at the Greatwood with Sebastopol. If he is going to competitive this season, he has got to be in some of those decent handicap hurdles. He is immensely talented and I think ultimately we will end up going up in trip with him.

“A race like the Greatwood though, they will go flat out and it should be run to suit him.”

Stablemate Tea Clipper could bid to back up his Silver Trophy success from Chepstow at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Lacey added: “Tea Clipper could go to Cheltenham for the Listed hurdle there next weekend or we might wait for Haydock in what was the fixed brush hurdle.  I was really pleased with the way he picked up again at Chepstow.

“His hurdling probably needs to be slicker as he spends a lot of time in the air at his hurdles.

“Had he not won the Silver Trophy, we would have probably campaigned him over fences, but as he has won that we ought to campaign him over hurdles.”