Ground conditions will dictate whether Manofthemountain will tackle Aintree’s Grand National fences in the Betway Grand Sefton Handicap Chase on Saturday.
Winner of the Grade Two Silver Trophy at Cheltenham in the spring, the eight-year-old blew away any cobwebs when filling the runner-up spot on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow last month.
Trainer Emma Lavelle believes that effort will have left Manofthemountain cherry-ripe for a big-race assignment, but warns he will only head for Merseyside if the ground is suitable.
She said: “The ground needs to dry back a bit for him to be going for that.
“It’s always been the plan and then it rained a lot, just in random places as well – there are plenty of tracks that are still riding quick.
“He was in good order at Chepstow, but he was a bit fresh and was always going to come on for it, which he’s done.
“If the ground is all right Aintree is the plan and if not we’ll probably go for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham (on Saturday week) instead.”
Lavelle is also targeting a major weekend prize at Wincanton, with dual course winner Irish Prophecy firmly on course for the 60th Badger Beer Handicap Chase.
“The ground there looks perfect for us,” the trainer added.
“It’s going to be a more competitive race than the one he won last time, but he jumped well and travelled well and did it all right that day.
“If he can do it in the same way on Saturday it would be great.”