TONY COYLE is hoping Son Of Flicka can serve up a repeat performance in the Coral Cup at next month’s Cheltenham Fesitval.
The Norton trainer is aiming to saddle the ten-year-old in the hugely competitive handicap on Wednesday, March 12 – knowing his handicapper has the highest credentials at the five-day National Hunt showpiece meeting.
Son Of Flicka won the Coral Cup two years ago as a 16-1 shot for then trainer Donald McCain and jockey Jason Maguire.
The gelding stunned joint-favourite Get Me Out Of Here by three-and-a-half lengths but that was his last victory on the track.
Now in Coyle’s hands, and off the same mark as he was when victorious in the two-mile five-furlong charge, the Highfield-based trainer is optimistic of another strong display.
“He’s rated 135 and we’ve just been running him over fences – just to look after his mark,” Coyle said. “He needs good ground.
“I’d be afraid to run him over hurdles just in case he did run badly in a handicap and then they dropped him and he didn’t get in.
“We’ve just kept him ticking over with fences.”
He added: “If Son Of Flicka finishes in the first four or five it would be brilliant.”
Coyle is also targeting Lucky Landing, a winner at Wetherby on his last outing last October, in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase and he said of the eight-year-old: “If Lucky Landing went there and finished in the first six it would be a great run. It’s nice to go down there with two runners. I know they are two tough handicaps but they are entitled to go down there. They won’t be just making up the numbers.
“The Coral Cup is a beast of a race but they are tough, hardened handicappers. You never know.
“The two of them will need good ground. If it is soft ground they won’t be going anywhere.
“It’s not a concern (that it is wet down there). It will soon dry up. If you get five days of good weather it will dry. I am not panicking yet.”
He added: “Lucky Landing has been a hell of a good horse to us.
“He won two £10,000 handicaps and he won at Wetherby last time when we didn’t fancy him because the ground went soft. He still won. Noel Fehily gave him a super ride.”