As champion jumper Wells attempts a record fourth Grand National Steeplechase success, rival Tallyho Twinkletoe will be racing for his own slice of history at Ballarat.
Tallyho Twinkletoe aims to become the first horse on Sunday since Mosstrooper in 1930 to win the Grand National Hurdle-Steeplechase double in the same year.
Mosstrooper won the Grand National Hurdle before winning over the bigger jumps a week later at Flemington.
Formerly prepared in New Zealand by Kevin Myers, Tallyho Twinkletoe was transferred into Patrick Payne’s care days before the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown on August 4, and has remained with Payne since.
“He had two tendon injuries back at home,” Payne said.
“The smartest thing we could do was to keep him the same weight and keep him busy without doing any fast galloping with him.
“He’s very healthy and well.”
Part of Tallyho Twinkletoe’s fitness regime has been schooling at Payne’s property with a trip to Ballarat on Friday to get accustomed to the easy-fix jumps he will race
Payne also took the gelding to Cranbourne for a 1550m-trial last Monday to “get him out of the house”.
“He’s maintained his health and fitness,” Payne said.
Payne also saddles Slowpoke Rodriguez in Sunday’s 4500m-feature, the final race of an all-jumps program and last race of the 2019 jumps season.
Slowpoke Rodriguez finished second to Wells in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown on August 4 and meets the winner 3.5kg better.
“I went into that last race feeling he might need the run and Slowpoke looked to have the better of Wells, but you do have to admire the winner,” Payne said.
“The winner looked out on his feet in the last 200 metres, but that’s why he’s won so many races, he dug deep.
“The weight swings our way but the only thing with that is that it’s a further distance on more testing ground which plays more into Wells’ favour.”
Wells shares the record of three Grand National Steeplechase victories with Bashboy having won at Sandown in 2014 and Ballarat in 2016 and 2017.
He was the $3 favourite in last year’s race, only to lose his rider Richard Cully in the early stages.