Goonyella bidding to follow in Notre Pere’s footsteps

Goonyella will bid to give trainer Jim Dreaper a second victory in the Coral Welsh National when he lines up for the feature race this afternoon at Chepsow.

Hoping the six-year-old can follow in the footsteps of Notre Pere, who won the race in 2008, Dreaper faced a logistical nightmare after the Christmas Eve ferry on which he was originally booked was cancelled due to rough seas.

He was instead forced to travel from Belfast on St Stephen’s Day.

“He left our yard at 7am and got to Chepstow at midnight so it was a long journey but he’s there,” said Dreaper.

“He’s eating and drinking – not as much as we’d like, but I’m sure he will pick up throughout the day.

“He needs all the distance you can find after three miles. He seems to stay extremely well, and obviously the Chepstow race is ideal for that sort of horse.

“He definitely has a chance, He’s only six, and it’s possibly pitching him in a bit too much or a bit too high at this stage of his life, but he doesn’t know he’s six and we’re anxious to have a go.”

“The only similarity with Notre Pere is that they’re both genuine, honest stayers.

“The hustle and bustle won’t upset him much.”

Emma Lavelle believes ultra-testing conditions will suit her representative, Highland Lodge.

The seven-year-old finished fourth in the Hennessy Gold Cup behind Triolo D’Alene on ground that was quicker than ideal. With conditions on the testing side of heavy and three miles and five furlongs to overcome, stamina will be at a premium, which Lavelle hopes will see Highland Lodge at his best.

“Highland Lodge came out of the Hennessy very well indeed,” she said. “It was just a shame that that the ground was as good as it was at Newbury as all he does is stay.

“Whereas some in the Hennessy were able to quicken, he is just a relentless galloper.

“It will be very tough going, but we know he handles it very well and I think he’ll stay.

“Tidal Bay running means we can run off a lovely weight (10st 6lb).”

Tidal Bay heads a maximum field of 20.

Despite turning 13 in just a few days, he reappeared with a win over hurdles at Wetherby but did not find the Betfair Chase at Haydock enough of a stamina test.

Nicholls believes the return to a marathon distance will be right up Tidal Bay’s street.

He said: “Tidal Bay won the bet365 at Sandown over three-miles-five on very heavy ground. You can take your time with him and he has a touch of class.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox