Kerry Lee hit the headlines on a regular basis in her first year as a trainer, which was hardly surprising considering she won the Welsh National with Mountainous, the Haydock Grand National Trial with Bishops Road, and the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase with Kylemore Lough. She seemed to be constantly on our TV screens last season and, though she only had 23 winners, she amassed £377,506 in prize-money.
After such a successful rookie-year, it was always going to be hard to match those exploits, but with 10 winners and 20 seconds or thirds from just 80 runners, and the stable seemingly hitting top-form, it could be time to take a look at some of the future plans of the young lady with the seemingly Golden-touch.
Lee managed to get her hands on this loveable old veteran when he looked amazingly well-handicapped on 118, and she duly found him a winning opportunity. That was his first win in 22 starts but, with his previous winning mark being 133, there’s just a chance she’ll be able to find him another winning opportunity off 128. Loves the mud, as so many of her horses do.
Rated 144 when winning the Betfred Grand National Trial, and was well-fancied for the Grand National but failed to make the cut as that win didn’t raise his mark for the Grand National. Not made much impression so far in two runs this season off his new mark of 154, but his shrewd trainer may well be plotting a route back to defend his Betfred title and/or a big run in the Grand National.
A 156-rated chaser who is the apple of his trainer’s eye, and he defeated the 2016 Lexus Chase winner Outlander when winning last season’s Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase. Took a run to get fit last season, but was only just beaten on this season’s debut at Ascot, and ran very creditably when trying to concede weight in the December Gold Cup Handicap at Cheltenham. Probably at his best on heavy ground and, as he didn’t hit peak form until after Christmas last year, he could be capable of landing at least one decent pot when conditions are right for him.
Needs conditions to be almost unraceable to be seen at his best, which is why he’s won two Welsh Grand Nationals off 132. Had to run off 142 in the 2016 renewal of that race, and no surprise if he was to have a winless season before an unprecedented attempt at a Welsh National hat-trick next year if the ground is suitable.
Won the Classic Chase at Warwick last season off 127, and probably needs the handicapper to drop him a few pounds to be competitive, as he’s now been stuck on 137 for 3 runs in which he’s been pulled-up twice and beaten 37-lengths in the other. Looks sure to be aimed at more marathon chases this year though, and could be interesting if the handicapper relents.
Another inmate who took a notable scalp last year in the shape of Dodging Bullets though, judging off that one’s subsequent exploits, he may have overreacted by raising him to 159. Did run an excellent third in a Cheltenham Handicap on New Year’s Day though, and worth noting that he won in both February and March last year.