Rasher on the menu for Aintree

Last Updated 3 Nov 2021 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering
De Rasher Counter

Image via @ELavelleRacing

Trainer Emma Lavelle intends on plotting a path to Aintree next spring as she aims De Rasher Counter at the Randox Grand National.

De Rasher Counter has raced only three times since he won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November 2019 but Lavelle is upbeat on his hopes of getting right back on track following an injury setback.

Lots of early promise

It took him six goes to score in Irish point-to-points back in 2016/17 but De Rasher Counter wasted no time once racing under rules having moved to Lavelle’s base at Marlborough.

He was a hurdles winner at Fontwell on his handicap bow in early 2018 and he bookended that calendar year by scoring his first chasing success at Newbury in a 2m6½f novice event that December.

Stamina was clearly a forte and he won over three miles in the mud at Uttoxeter on their Midlands National card in March of the following year. His next start over fences was that Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, when he held off The Conditional to win from a mark of 149.

The nine-year-old was a remote fourth in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase won by Santini at Cheltenham in January of 2020 and then was pulled up in the Midlands National itself back at Uttoxeter before racing was suspended due to the pandemic. In his only run last season he finished second over hurdles at Newton Abbot.

Back from injury

De Rasher Counter has been off the track with a tendon injury since that run but is now back in training and while excited to see him in work again, Lavelle won’t be pushing too many buttons too soon.

“It is hugely exciting having him back in,” she told Sky Sports Racing. “He has been in Wales trotting up hills, hardening his legs off, having picked up an injury last season.

“The plan for this season will be geared around the Grand National. We will scan his legs and if everything is all right, we will be able to start cantering with him.”

Working back from Aintree

The date of April 9 is the long-term target for Lavelle and De Rasher Counter with Merseyside and the Grand National right at the front of the Wiltshire trainer’s thoughts.

Getting there will be a tale of patience and, while De Rasher Counter is effective in testing ground, that’s not something Lavelle is focused on finding for him.

That sort of prevailing surface at Aintree come the spring would be unlikely in any event and she feels her charge isn’t a mudlark.

“He will have a decent level of fitness from what he has been doing. If the ground is not bottomless, hopefully, we can start him in January and have a couple of runs before the National,” she added.

“I think we will keep all options open, and I’m not saying we won’t run him over hurdles, but I think it will depend on where the races are, what the ground is like and what makes sense.

Merseyside next spring is the ultimate goal: “Everything will work back from the Grand National, though,” add the trainer.

“The ground in the Cotswold Chase [last January] was bottomless, and he is a lovely-moving horse and he probably doesn’t want it like that.”

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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