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Kayley Woollacott pondering Festival plans for Lalor after close Cheltenham defeat

Sun 12 Jan 2020

Kayley Woollacott has fluid plans for stable star Lalor after his gallant run in defeat at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

The eight-year-old was involved in a three-way photo finish, after belying his odds of 20-1 in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase.

Dan Skelton’s Oldgrangewood was eventually declared the winner, with Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados a nose behind and Lalor missing out by just a short-head in total.

Woollacott is hoping dry weather will allow her to run the gelding at Cheltenham on January 25, with the Grade Three Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Trophy Handicap Chase the intended target.

Lalor was narrowly denied at Cheltenham on New Year's Day

“He’s come out of the race very well,” she said of Lalor’s narrow defeat.

“I couldn’t see (the finish properly) to be honest, but you always hope they’ve got up and won. I thought the horse in the middle had got it actually – Saint Calvados – I didn’t think of the Skelton horse.

“It’s just nice to see him return to form and battle up the hill. It was a completely different race to his recent runs – he’s not gone like that in a while, so it’s great to have him back.”

Lalor holds an entry for the Ryanair Chase, but his next step will determine whether he runs at the Cheltenham Festival or bypasses it in favour of Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

Woollacott added: “He could reappear at Cheltenham at the end of the month, but it would need to be dry.

“He wouldn’t want it any softer than it was when he ran there last time.

“Alternatively there’s Newbury in February for him, or Warwick. We have to decide whether to go for the Cheltenham Festival or wait for Aintree.

The Somerset-based trainer also provided an update on The Kings Writ, who has been placed twice this season in handicaps at both Ascot and Exeter.

The Kings Writ finished second at Exeter last time out

The nine-year-old may revert to hurdles, after being awarded a taxing handicap mark of 137 over fences.

“I feel for him more than I feel for Lalor,” said Woollacott.

“He’s gone up a lot in the handicap for not winning many races. He ran a cracker on New Year’s Day, but he just met a better horse.

“He always brings his A-game, but the handicapper hasn’t been very kind to him.

“There aren’t many races for him over fences now, so we might have to drop him into a maiden hurdle next. He’s just such a lovely horse to have.”

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