Mountainous back on National trail

Mountainous will have at least one prep run before thoughts turn to defending his crown in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27.

The nine-year-old, trained by Richard Lee, gamely held Hawkes Point by a head to lift the marathon contest last Christmas, but has not raced since falling at Valentine’s first time round in the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree in April.

There are suitable staying handicap chases for Mountainous at Haydock on November 22 and at Chepstow on December 6 before the takes aim at the main event.

“Obviously he’ll have an entry in the Welsh National again and we’ve got one or two options for him before then,” said Lee’s wife, Carol.

“We might have an option at Haydock next month, or we may go again to Chepstow for the race he was third in last year (a three-mile handicap chase). I suppose we’d like to get one or two runs into him before hopefully going back for the Welsh National.”

Meanwhile next month’s Stanjames.com Elite Hurdle at Wincanton is the most likely seasonal starting point for Jeremy Scott’s stable star Melodic Rendezvous.

The eight-year-old kicked off last season with an impressive victory in the Grade Two contest and went on to enjoy further success in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock and the Kingwell Hurdle back at Wincanton. He was unable to make an impact in either the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham or the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree on better ground in the spring and Scott is keen to ensure his charge does his racing in more testing conditions this winter.

Should the ground at Wincanton on November 8 be deemed unsuitable, Melodic Rendezvous could be prepared for a trip to Ireland for Punchestown’s Morgiana Hurdle the following weekend.

Scott said: “The plan is to go for the Elite Hurdle, but if the ground isn’t soft enough we could look to the race in Ireland.

“There are also races at Ascot and Haydock later on, so we’ll see.

“He’s very well and everything is going well at home. We just need some soft ground. We’ll be sticking to softer ground this season, as when he runs on better ground he always seems to get jarred up.”

Scott also revealed the long-absent Empiracle is unlikely to race again after suffering yet another injury.

“He was going well and we were ready to enter him up, but unfortunately he injured himself again last weekend,” said the trainer.


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