V for victory

Adrian McGuinness is bidding for more rich pickings with Victram in the Ladbroke (Handicap Hurdle) at Ascot on Saturday.

Adrian McGuinness is bidding for more rich pickings with Victram in the Ladbroke (Handicap Hurdle) at Ascot on Saturday.

The six-year-old made it third time lucky on raids to these shores when lifting the Imperial Cup at Sandown in March.

Now his trainer hopes for more of the same in the £150,000 contest.

“He definitely goes to Ascot. He’s done a nice bit of work today and he’s going over tomorrow night,” said McGuinness.

After a summer break, Victram had a couple of spins on the Flat before making a successful reappearance over hurdles at Down Royal six weeks ago when he got up in the dying strides to short-head the favourite Moore’s Law.

“He’s worked the last of couple of weeks and has been in cracking form. He worked up at the Curragh last Saturday and we were very happy with him. I wished the race had been then,” said the County Dublin-based handler.

McGuinness is not unduly concerned about Victram’s higher British rating of 128.

“He’s gone up a few pounds, but the best thing about him is that he never wins his races by that much,” he remarked.

“He’s a hold-up horse and he’s never going to win a race by four or five lengths.

“He just got up at Sandown and he just got up in Down Royal. That’s the one thing about him and hopefully he’ll stay on improving.

“The English handicapper has him 4lb higher than in Ireland, but I think he’ll still have a good chance at the weights.

“He’s run a couple of great races in England and he’s a good traveller. Please God he’ll run a big race. I think the track and the ground will suit him.

“He wouldn’t want it heavy, but he likes nice soft ground and I think it will OK for him on Saturday.”

Declan Carroll is likely to pitch Pilca in at the deep end, even though the six-year-old is 12lb out of the handicap.

Pilca has shown remarkable improvement since he was bought out of Alison Thorpe’s stable for 5,400 guineas after winning a Ludlow seller five weeks ago to end a 36-race losing streak.

After striking first time for Carroll at Musselburgh, Pilca was second in a 16-runner handicap hurdle when 4lb wrong at Cheltenham last week.

“I think we’ll probably let him take his chance,” said Carroll.

“He ran a good race last time at Cheltenham but he was probably in front a bit too soon the way it worked out. He was getting a lead then Manhattan Boy stopped very quick and he ended up in front too soon and Tom (Scudamore) had no other option.

“He’s improved since we’ve had him and he’s still improving a little bit. He’ll need to do for a race like this but he’s in good form. He needs five to come out to get a run and he’s only a small horse so a lightweight suits him.

“We’ve not sorted out a jockey yet but I imagine it will be either Tom Scudamore or Barry Keniry.”

Tom Doyle will take the mount on Noel Chance’s runner Slew Charm, who booked his place when running Blazing Bailey to two lengths at Haydock last month.

“He ran well at Haydock and the form has held up, so it’s fingers crossed,” said Chance.

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