David Dennis is aiming to have Godsmejudge at his peak for the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr on 16 April.
The ten-year-old, who has not won since lifting this prestigious prize in 2013, when trained by Alan King, showed he was on the way back to his best form when finishing second to Ziga Boy at Doncaster in December.
The winner has already franked the form by making a triumphant return to the South Yorkshire venue in the Sky Bet Chase.
Godsmejudge is likely to go back to Doncaster for his next run, with Dennis looking at the BetBright Best For Festival Betting Veterans’ Handicap Chase on 24 February.
“He’s fine. I’ve deliberately not run him on this testing ground. He doesn’t enjoy it,” said Dennis.
“He would be ready to run later this month. There’s a race at Doncaster I am aiming for. Hopefully we’ll get slightly better ground up there.
“That’s his target this month, but the long-term target is the Scottish National.
“He seems to enjoy the track and the trip, so that will be the aim later in the spring when his form in the past has always come good.
“It was good to get a nice run from him. He was beaten a long way, but it was an encouraging run. He ran all the way to the line over an inadequate trip of three miles. I’d like to aim him for the Grand National at Aintree, but he’s highly unlikely off a mark of 129 to get in.”
Meanwhile, in the Ladbrokes Handicap at Southwell today, Westwood Hoe can bounce back from a couple of below-par runs.
Tony Coyle’s five-year-old had been in great form at the end of 2015, winning at Doncaster and on Southwell’s Fibresand. He was put up 5lb for the first success and only 2lb for the second, yet he appeared lacklustre when six lengths behind the reopposing Philba. A fortnight later he was out again and finished only mid-division behind Forceful Appeal and he has only been dropped 1lb for that. It is quite easy to forgive him for that run, though, as it was more than a mile and he is obviously much better at this trip of seven furlongs. He meets Philba on much better terms and is still quite unexposed on this surface so is given one more chance to prove he still has more to offer.
Julia Feilden’s Kemsing laughed at a mark of 55 when winning at the track last month and there is every chance an extra 7lb will not be enough to stop him in the 32Red Handicap. Having won at Southwell in December off a mark of 50, it looked a flash in the pan when he was a beaten favourite a month later, albeit only narrowly beaten.
Last time out, though, he looked on a steep upward curve as he cruised to victory, looking good value for the winning margin.
Ralph Beckett’s Rain In The Face has earned a handicap mark of 73 which, if correct, should enable him to win the Ladbrokes Maiden Stakes.
Unplaced in two runs as a juvenile, he was beaten just a head at this track last month.
The only other to have run, Richard Fahey’s Hutton, could put up a good fight, although he failed to progress from a good debut run.
2:20 Molly Milan
3:30 Bold Sir Brian
4:05 Clan Chief
4:40 Ubaltique (nap)
5:10 Paper Roses
2:00 Hab Reeh
3:05 Red Unico
3:40 Westwood Hoe
4:15 Rain In The Face
4:50 Kelly’s Finest