Connections of Ahoy Senor have admitted to feeling the nerves ahead of his bid to get back on the winning trail in Saturday’s William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby.
Lucinda Russell’s Grade One-winning hurdler unseated Derek Fox on his debut over fences at Carlisle, but bounced back with a 31-length demolition job at Newbury.
He was last seen coming off second best in a highly-anticipated clash with Bravemansgame in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
But faced with jut three rivals, Ahoy Senor will be widely expected to go one better in this weekend’s Grade Two feature in West Yorkshire.
Peter Scudamore, Russell’s assistant and partner, said: „It looks a competitive race, but if he can’t run very well, he’s not as good as we think he is.
„He seems in great form, we’re very happy with him. We’re nervously looking forward to it.
„I thought he was good going to Kempton and I think he’s good now. I’m just hoping he can get a bit of bounce off the ground and jump a bit slicker. If he can do that, he’ll run an excellent race.“
Ahoy Senor is entered in both the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and the Gold Cup at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
How he performs could be key in deciding which race he ends up running in.
„You read about all these horses like Bob Olinger and the Willie Mullins horse (Galopin Des Champs) in the novice races – there’s lots of horses,“ Scudamore added.
„We just want to get this weekend over with and see where we go from there.“
The biggest threat to Ahoy Senor appears to be Saint Palais, who steps up in class after shooting up the ratings with a hat-trick of handicap wins.
The five-year-old is not even entered at Cheltenham, with trainer Richard Bandey expecting to have a clearer idea of his capabilities after Saturday.
He said: „Cheltenham is not in the plans for him at the moment. We’ll see how he fares on Saturday and then plan from there. If all was to go well, we might look at Aintree at the end of the season.
„We’ve got to take another big step up and we’ll make some plans after Saturday if things go in our favour.
„If he were to finish second to Ahoy Senor, you’d still be very happy – he’ll have done nothing wrong. We’ll know a bit more.“
Dan Skelton’s course-and-distance winner Ashtown Lad and the Emmet Mullins-trained Irish raider Noble Yeats complete the quartet.