McCain outlines novice plans
Up And Go and Clondaw Kaempfer could both be prepared for the Grand National meeting at Aintree after trainer Donald McCain elected to bypass the Cheltenham Festival with his two star novice hurdlers.
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Uttoxeter bumper scorer Up And Go was thrown straight into a Grade Two at Sandown on his hurdling bow in early December and suffered a tired fall two flights from the finish.
The tumble clearly left no significant mark on the five-year-old as he has since dotted up at Wetherby and Ascot and McCain admits his charge may well have been Cheltenham-bound if he had done things differently earlier in the campaign.
"If I hadn't over-faced him at Sandown and got a couple of sensible runs in quietly and then gone to Ascot the other day, we possibly would have gone to Cheltenham, but I just feel we need a little lower profile with him now," said the trainer.
"I would think he'll go to Aintree. Whether that's two and a half or three miles, I don't quite know.
"He's going to be a better horse over a fence and Cheltenham has just come a few weeks too soon."
Snapped up for £130,000 after winning an Irish bumper last spring, Clondaw Kaempfer appeared a sound investment when winning his first two starts over hurdles at Aintree and Haydock.
He was pulled up after a bad mistake three flights from home in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury in late December, but McCain is looking forward to seeing him return at either Aintree or at the Punchestown Festival.
"He wasn't right after Newbury, but he's back cantering now," said the Bankhouse handler.
"It was nothing drastic, just a couple of bumps and bangs after that mistake at Newbury, so that was decision made for him (regarding Cheltenham).
"He'll go to either Aintree or Punchestown."