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Lalor breezes through Exeter workout under Johnson to set up Arkle challenge

Lalor: 9-2 for the Racing Post Arkle
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Lalor's preparation for the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival next month stepped up a gear on Saturday with a racecourse gallop at Exeter under champion jockey Richard Johnson.

Kayley Woollacott's stable star, last seen finishing third in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown in December, is best priced 9-2 for the Arkle and will run fresh after missing an engagement at Doncaster last month.

"They did a decent gallop, doing the two miles round before quickening up down the straight. Dickie was very pleased, he said he felt well within himself and did it all easily. We're excited," she said.  

"He runs his best races off the back of a break. We do plenty of jumping with him at home, he's always been a very natural jumper."

Woollacott, who could also be represented by Kim Muir possible The King's Writ at the festival, is keeping calm ahead of the big day. 

"We're looking forward to it, but we're treating it all as normal and like any other day," she said. "There's still two and a half weeks to go so keeping the horses sound and healthy is the most important thing."

Brewin'Upastorm at Warwick on Friday

Finishing touches for the festival were also being put in place at Warwick on Friday, with Brewin’Upastorm confirmed for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle by trainer Olly Murphy after a racecourse gallop.

Brewin’Upastorm fell at the final flight when half a length in front of winner Champ in a trial for the race at Cheltenham last month and is a best-priced 12-1 with William Hill and Betfair for the 2m5f hurdle. 

Ridden by Ger Tumelty, Brewin’Upastorm was joined by Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle contenders Thomas Darby and Itchy Feet, and Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate hope Knockgraffon.

Murphy said: “We’re only 15 minutes down the road so it makes sense to give them a leg stretch out on the grass here and they all did it nicely.

“Brewin’Upastorm has seemed absolutely fine since his fall at Cheltenham and schooled well, including when Richard Johnson sat on him yesterday morning. I wouldn’t be worried about his jumping next month and he’s going to run in the Ballymore.

“Itchy Feet’s form is rock-solid and it looks as though he’s been backed at big prices - I don’t see any reason why he won’t run well and he certainly won’t disgrace himself, while Thomas Darby seems in really good form and a fast-run race will suit him.

“We have a small and select team but I’m hoping they’ve all got each-way chances. Dry weather would suit as all four runners prefer a sound surface.”

Rutland trainer Kelly Morgan witnessed stable stars Top Wood and Red Indian being put through their paces.

Morgan was narrowly denied a fairytale Foxhunter success with runner-up Top Wood last year, who bids to go one better next month, while Kauto Star Novices’ Chase fourth Red Indian is being aimed at the Close Brothers’ Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Top Wood, who worked under Tabitha Worsley, is a general 16-1 chance, while Red Indian, partnered by Sam Davies-Thomas, is 33-1 with Betfair Sportsbook for the 2m4f contest.

Top Wood (near) and Red Indian after a racecourse gallop at Warwick

Morgan said: “It’s a slight risk going there fresh but Top Wood does run well off a break. He’s a funny horse and has his own ideas, but he seems on very good form with himself and galloped really nicely.

“Red Indian has schooled very well since unseating at Kelso, worked well today and goes there with an each-way chance.”

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He runs his best races off the back of a break. We do plenty of jumping with him at home, he's always been a very natural jumper
E.W. Terms