Tom Lacey admits it would be “fabulous” if Adrimel could provide him with a breakthrough first Grade One success in next month’s Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park (Saturday 5th February).
The Herefordshire trainer has earmarked the 2m 4f contest as the next port of call for the seven year old, who provided Lacey with his first-ever Grade Two victory in last year’s Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick.
After pulling up on both his Grade One debut at Cheltenham in last season’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival™ and in the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, it was the same outcome for Adrimel on his chasing debut at Exeter.
But the Lady and Alice Bamford-owned gelding left those efforts well behind when opening his account over fences by 15 lengths at Haydock Park on December 18th in first-time blinkers, an effort Lacey now hopes he can build on back at the highest level.
Lacey said: “The Scilly Isles is the plan. I was watching the racing at Lingfield over the weekend and thinking, ‘should I have had him in there?’, but they were Class 2 races.
“The Bamfords paid substantial money for him (£280,000 at the Goffs Aintree Sale in April 2019) when they bought him. They want to compete at the top level and he has earnt his place to go and line up in a Grade One novice.
“It would be fabulous if he did win a Grade One. We’ve had a few stabs at Grade Ones but never really genuinely had the horses to line up in them.
“They have deserved their chances in them and have earnt their entries. We just haven’t managed to hit the back of the net yet. Hopefully it is only a matter of time.”
Although delighted to see Adrimel return to winning ways on his most recent start, Lacey admits that the defeat on his return to action at Exeter was a case of trainer error.
He added: “Exeter was as much my fault as anyone’s. We didn’t put the headgear on him.
“We schooled him on grass over eight fences and he jumped with such enthusiasm we thought we would chance him on the basis that the fences would light him up, but it totally backfired.
“There was plenty of pace on that day and I said to Johnny (Burke) you don’t have to make it. We lined him up and he never really went forward.
“I think the ground was plenty quick enough for him that day as well. It was a recovery mission back at Haydock where he proved on song with the blinkers rather than cheekpieces for the first time.
“One of the reasons I’ve not campaigned him hard at this stage is we have reached for the blinkers and I don’t want them to lose their effect going for a prize like the Scilly Isles.”
Lacey believes that his chances of securing victory at Sandown Park will be enhanced by any rainfall arriving at the Esher venue in the build up to the race.
Lacey said of Adrimel: “He is in great shape and worked nicely on Saturday.
“He will have an away day this week and we will probably take him to Lambourn up the back of the hill and then we should be on target.
“We would like soft ground but at this time of year you don’t need a lot of rain to turn the ground back to soft.
“The tempo of the races around there on deep winter ground - they go at a nice slow pace. He just ploughs on through the mud and they are his conditions, so I hope the weather turns for me.”