One of Victoria’s top jumpers will continue his preparation for a feature steeplechase win with a run on the flat at Flemington.
While all eyes are on Warrnambool this week with key jumps races over the three-day meeting, last year’s Grand National Steeplechase winner Wells will line up on Saturday in a 2800m handicap.
Trainer Kathryn Durden will use Saturday’s race as part of the lead-up to the first of two jumps targets, the Australian Steeplechase at Sandown at the end of May and a repeat victory in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat in August.
Wells ran second to Angelology at Sandown last year before defeating Lucky Tonight and Undergroundfighter at Ballarat.
The nine-year-old has already had two runs on the flat to prepare him for the jumps season and Durden is happy with his recent performance at Bendigo.
“He ran a good race at Bendigo last start in a slowly run race,” Durden said.
“We were happy with him as he was warming up at the end of it and he always runs well at Flemington on the flat.
“It’s a stepping stone for his jumping.”
Wells ran third in the corresponding race in 2014 while last year after his Australian Steeplechase placing the gelding ran third on two occasions at a staying trip at Flemington in the lead-up to his Grand National success.
“He’s competitive in flat races when he gets out to a longer trip,” Durden said.
“He just needs two miles really but 2800 metres on Saturday is fine.”
Durden says she will assess Wells’ fitness and if she feels he needs another start he could line up in the 3200m Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington on May 20 before the Australian Steeplechase a week later.
But she said the gelding would have another steeple school following Saturday’s race to get his eye in for his jumps return.
“We’re really happy with the horse,” Durden said.
“He’s done everything asked of him so far and he’s coming along nicely.”
Apprentice Ben Allen has been booked to ride on Saturday.