16 February 2024

Cheltenham target for Apple Away likely to be clearer after Reynoldstown run

16 February 2024

Lucinda Russell’s Apple Away looks to take the next step in her promising chasing career when she lines up in the Sodexo Live! Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

The Grade One-winning novice hurdler is in her first season over fences and has made a pleasing start so far, finishing third on debut in a competitive graduation chase and then winning by a huge margin next time out at Leicester.

She gained more experience in the Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick last month, finishing second to the highly-regarded Grey Dawning – the same horse that won her first race over fences and the highest-rated novice chaser in training in Britain.

“It’s a good opportunity for her and Grey Dawning looks a very good horse, but she is probably better than she showed at Warwick,” said Peter Scudamore, partner and assistant to Russell.

“I don’t know if I had her quite right at Warwick but I’m hoping for a big run this time.

“It’s a competitive race and we don’t underestimate the opposition, but God willing, she is jumping OK and she’s running to the same standard as she did over hurdles.

“We realise we’re in at the deep end with her, but we know we’re fortunate to have a mare as good as her, so we’re hoping for a big run.”

Apple Away is ultimately Cheltenham-bound, with connections likely to come away from this weekend with more of an idea of which direction to go in at the meeting.

Scudamore added: “We have Giovinco as well, who won on Thursday, and Apple Away and one will probably go to the Ultima.

“Apple will probably have more options and could go for the amateur race (National Hunt Challenge Cup), but I would like to keep Derek (Fox) on her if possible. You have the Ultima and the Brown Advisory, so we will see.”

Also running is Paul Nicholls’ Brave Kingdom, who has returned from a significant break this season to win both starts in novice handicap chases.

He steps up a level and Nicholls hopes he is open to improvement and may think bigger still if he impresses at Ascot.

“He’s come good, he had problems and missed a lot of time and then he won at Plumpton well and then again at Newbury,” he said.

“He has to progress again, but we’re very happy with him. Newbury was obviously a novice handicap and this is a different race again, but we’re happy with him and he’s had a nice bit of time since Newbury, so hopefully he will run well again.

“Because he has had problems, you only take things race-by-race with him but I suspect if he won or did very well in this then we might look at a better race down the line at Aintree or somewhere like that. I’m not convinced Cheltenham is his track at the moment, but we will see.”

Anthony Honeyball’s Kilbeg King is another interesting contender having finished third in the Grade One Kauto Star at Kempton when last seen, with the Ben Pauling-trained Henry’s Friend and Dan Skelton’s The King Of Ryhope completing the field.

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