Lacey optimistic on Kimberlite Candy’s Aintree dream

Last Updated 6 Apr 2021 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Trainer Tom Lacey is confident Kimberlite Candy is going to be ready to turn up and perform in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree, despite being off the track since December.

The Herefordshire trainer had been eyeing up an early spring prep-run before turning up at Aintree, but that plan failed to work out. He is, though, confident Kimberlite Candy is peaking at just the right time for the Merseyside showpiece.

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Kimberlite Candy has been considered a genuine Grand National contender for some time but his chance at the race was missed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 enforced cancellation.

He had shown his potential that January with a decisive success in the Grade 3 Classic Chase at Warwick over three-miles and five-furlongs – a race viewed by many as a leading Grand National trial.

Kimberlite Candy is no stranger to Aintree and the famous National fences. He has finished second in the last two renewals of the three-mile-two-furlong Becher Chase, behind Walk In The Mill in 2019 and when remote second to Vieux Lion Rouge in December just gone.

Despite that being his most recent outing, Lacey remains happy with Kimberlite Candy as Aintree looms large.

“He’s very well,” he said. “He went for an away day [last week], galloped two-miles on grass – and did it really well.

“You could just see in his eyes and his skin he’s really coming to himself now.”

Kimberlite Candy

Kimberlite Candy. Image via @PaulFulford

Kelso clash with Cloth Cap missed

Lacey was eager enough to get a run into Kimberlite Candy ahead of Aintree but things conspired against him. He was deemed not quite ready for the Swinley Chase at Ascot in February and his trainer thought long and hard before opting against a run in the Premier Chase at Kelso subsequently.

That race was of course won in smashing style by Cloth Cap, Jonjo O’Neill’s Ladbrokes Trophy hero cementing his place atop the betting for the Grand National in the process.

Swerving the race in Scotland was a close call but, ultimately, one that Lacey feels he got right.

“We decided to drop travelling overnight to race up there on a sharp track,” he remarked of Kelso.

“We decided, in a competitive race like that, it wasn’t a necessity. Yes, it would have been nice to have had a run. But not so if you’d gone and had a disappointing run on the wrong track, in the wrong race. We think he’s a dour stayer. In that grade, he’s going to be taken off his feet in three-mile competitive handicap chases.

“To go to Aintree on the back of a poor run, through no fault of the horse’s, for me the advantages of not running outstripped the advantages of running. In this day and age, we can all get them fit at home.”

Cap fits but Aintree test remains

Cloth Cap officially has a stone in hand on ratings based on his impressive success at Kelso. Lacey acknowledges he’s a top-class candidate for Grand National glory, but he’s not about to become scared of one horse in a race of that ilk.

He sees Kimberlite Candy being played late in the Aintree marathon, while he warns that Cloth Cap won’t get to dictate as easily as he has in his wins at Newbury and Kelso this season.

The majority of Kimberlite Candy’s six victories under rules have come on ground described as either soft or heavy, but given the stamina-test in store at Aintree, Lacey says the forecast good-to-soft conditions will be spot on.

“It’s four miles two,” he said. “If it’s safe, good to soft ground – which it will be – you’re going to have to stay.

“I’d like to think we can ride a race on him – I don’t want him being forced early on. I’d like to see him creeping into it and doing his best work at the end. He has raced prominently in the Becher, but he’s got an extra mile and a bit to go this time. So he doesn’t need to be ridden that aggressively.

“I certainly wouldn’t be frightened of one in a field of 40. [Cloth Cap] has got to go and jump round Aintree.

“He isn’t going to be allowed off on the front end like he has done his previous two runs. He’s going to be hassled, horses around him, a very different test.”

Find live odds for Kimberlite Candy and other Grand National Runners here.

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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