Lavelle relishing Saratoga gamble with Casino Markets
Emma Lavelle will break new ground on Thursday when she rolls the dice with Casino Markets in the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap Hurdle at Saratoga.
The nine-year-old Casino Markets, third in a Grade 2 chase at Cheltenham in April but last seen when last of 15 in the Betfred Summer Plate at Market Rasen, will take on 11 rivals in his bid for a slice of the $150,000 prize.
Leighton Aspell will travel with Lavelle to America to take the ride, and the trainer spoke on Monday of her excitement.
"He's landed out there, so it's so far so good," she said. "It's something different for us all, but he likes quick ground and there's plenty of prize-money, so it's good to be able to support the race.
"He's owned by an American, so we started thinking last year it would be a dream to get him out there. It's a great adventure and if it goes well, I'm sure it's something we'll look at doing again."
Casino Markets could go on the hunt for further pots in the US if he runs well, but he faces competition from a number of familiar names.
Three Kingdoms, who won a Curragh handicap for Dermot Weld in July before being pulled up in the Galway Plate earlier this month, will line up for trainer George Weaver, with Sean Flanagan taking the ride.
Modem, who won a Ballinrobe beginners' chase for Jessica Harrington in May, is another taking his chance, now being trained by Elizabeth Voss.
The same trainer also has Portrade, who used to ply his trade in Ireland, as did Show Court and Swansea Mile, who also raced in Britain.
Ireland's David Peter Dunne is also represented by Colla Pier, a beginners' chase winner at Down Royal in June, who will be ridden by Robbie Dunne.
"There are some familiar names running and I feel overall the quality of horses running in jumps races in America is improving, so it could be we're slightly behind the curve now," said Lavelle. "But if it works, then fantastic, and if it doesn't then it will have been worth taking the chance."