Bigbadjohn on Reynoldstown recovery mission at Ascot
Rebecca Curtis has her fingers crossed Bigbadjohn will have no repeat of recent problems when he tackles the Sodexo Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
Bigbadjohn was being eased by his jockey Jonathan Burke when he slipped up on the bend going out for the final circuit of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last month, for which he started 9-2 favourite.
The eight-year-old, who had shown good form going into that race including finishing second to Thistlecrack at Newbury, was found to be suffering from a fibrillating heart.
The vets could find nothing untoward after giving the horse a thorough check-up and Curtis reports Bigbadjohn to be fit and well.
"He's in great form," said the Newport handler. "We need to get a run into him after that disappointing run in the Sky Bet, where he was found to have a fibrillating heart.
"I hope it was just a one-off, a freak thing that happened. He was fully checked the next day and the vets couldn't find a problem.
"It's a bit of a comeback run for him, but he's been well at home."
Label Des Obeaux got off the mark over fences in good style at Ludlow, after being placed in better company in his three previous starts.
Trainer Alan King is hoping that will have given the six-year-old a mental boost.
"Label Des Obeaux won comfortably at Ludlow last week, but that was the first easy race he has had, so I am hoping that it serves to build his confidence," the Barbury Castle handler told www.alankingracing.co.uk
"While the Reynoldstown Chase is a Grade Two, our fellow loves cut in the ground and, though the forecast is dry, the going will still be soft which will suit him."
Curtis is delighted to get O'Faolains Boy back on the track in the Keltbray Swinley Limited Handicap Chase after a 337-day absence.
The Randox Health Grand National is the long-term objective for the 10-year-old, who was last seen finishing seventh in the Cheltenham Gold Cup won by Don Cossack.
"I think there will be room for a bit of improvement in him on the back of this run and we're keen to make the Grand National his main aim this year," said Curtis.
"I want to get two runs into him beforehand and it's just good to have him back. He had his issues early in the autumn so it's good to have him back sound."
Another horse returning after a lengthy layoff is the King-trained Ordo Ab Chao, who has his first run for 680 days in the Les Ambassadeurs Casino Handicap Hurdle.
"Ordo Ab Chao was very ill with pneumonia and pleurisy last season and we nearly lost him," King said.
"It has taken him a long time to recover, but he's now ready to start back and if he ran well we might look at one of the handicaps at Cheltenham."
King also saddles the novice My Khaleesi, who only just got home to open her account over hurdles at Fontwell six weeks ago after taking second place behind Colin's Sister in a Listed event at Haydock on her previous start.
"My Khaleesi had to work hard to break her maiden at Fontwell, having finished second in a Listed hurdle at Haydock, but the Fontwell runner-up has won since," King said.
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Following the shock news that Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack will miss the rest of the season through injury, reaction was quickly forthcoming from the wider racing community, on what is another huge blow to next month's Cheltenham Festival.