Lavelle’s Cheltenham target for Claret Cloak

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Cheltenham’s new season kicks off next weekend, in its first meeting since the Hunter Chase Evening at the end of April.

The October Showcase meeting is a natural starting point for horses returning from their summer breaks, and is often used in preparation for The Open weekend meeting in November.

One trainer who is hoping to get her jump season off to a great start is Emma Lavelle who is entering Claret Cloak in the Marie Curie Cancer Care Handicap Chase on the Saturday.

emma lavelleIt is the first time her charge will tackle a two and a half mile distance, but after an impressive season last year, Lavelle feels this is the natural progression for the improving seven-year-old.

He took a 14-length victory on his chase debut at Towcester in October, 2013 before taking fourth in a Grade One at Sandown in December and then acquitted himself well in handicap company at the spring highlights.

He finished a close third in a Cheltenham Festival Grade Three race (Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase) despite a bad blunder at the penultimate fence, and filled the same position in the Grade Three Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree’s Crabbie’s Grand National Festival.

“Claret Cloak will go for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Handicap Chase. We want to see if he stays two and a half miles because it will open up a lot more doors for him and he could be quite good over that trip,” said Lavelle.

“I was really pleased with his progress last season. He was probably a bit unlucky at Cheltenham and taking the second last fence with him didn’t help!

“The ground is massively important to him and hopefully the ground is decent, which it should be at this time of year.

“It’s one of those where he should get the trip but he travels so well in his races that it makes you have reservations. He is a lot more relaxed in his races now so that will give him every chance.”

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