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Lavelle Has Fingers Crossed for More Festival Glory

Emma Lavelle has twice enjoyed the unique emotions that accompany victory at The Festival and the Hampshire trainer is hoping to arrive at Cheltenham in March with her team primed for the season’s greatest challenge.

Emma Lavelle

Emma Lavelle
Lavelle experienced her first taste of Festival glory when Crack Away Jack won the 2008 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and revisited that elation last year when Pause And Clause powered up the famous hill to collect the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle under Johnny Farrelly.

“It’s such an amazing feeling to have a winner at The Festival,” she said. AIt’s the best of the best, going there and to have something good enough to win a race there is phenomenal - fingers crossed for this year.

This year, Lavelle has a clutch of talented horses with The Festival at the top of their agendas. Perhaps the standout is Court In Motion, a talented novice hurdler with entries in both the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles and the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over three furlongs shorter.

The six-year-old relished heavy conditions at Warwick on January 15, when slamming his rivals in the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over two miles, five furlongs.

Lavelle revealed today: “All things being equal, Court In Motion will go to the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival. I was delighted with his win at Warwick the other day and he seems in very good order.

“He will go to Haydock on Saturday before going on to Cheltenham. I’m very wary of the ground - if it didn’t stay on the soft side, he could finish up missing all engagements because we had set our sights solely on The Festival, so he goes to Haydock first.”

Highland Valley has the same Grade One engagements at The Festival as Court In Motion, as well as the Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle. The six-year-old’s only defeat to date came over three miles in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

Lavelle continued: “Highland Valley is decent too and he’s probably likely to run in either the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett at The Festival.

“He’s another that would want softer ground, in an ideal world. He ran an incredible race to be fourth to Mossley over three miles at Cheltenham in December, considering that he didn’t jump a single hurdle that day. Running him over two miles, three (furlongs) at Exeter the other day was just because that was the option available to me rather than it being the first choice distance. I’d say the further the better for him.”

© Grossick Racing Photography

Bouggler, a Grade Two-winning novice hurdler, has made a pleasing start to his chasing career and ran better than the bare result suggests when 10 lengths second to Grade One RSA Chase hope Wymott at Bangor on February 4.

Lavelle revealed: “I’ve taken Bouggler out of the RSA Chase, so he is more likely to run now in the Jewson Novices’ Chase or in a handicap. He burst a blood vessel at Bangor the other day but he seems fine and I have no qualms about him going to Cheltenham.

“He was cantering alongside Wymott turning in but stopped and came back with blood coming out of his nose. It wasn’t a bad performance, even so. Had he won there he would have been going to Cheltenham having won a decent novice chase and that would have altered people’s views of him.”

Lavelle’s past Festival winners have enjoyed mixed fortunes subsequently. Crack Away Jack went on to finish fourth in the 2009 Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle. He and last year’s hero, Pause And Clause, made promising starts to their chasing careers but both have seen their form tail off of late.

The Andover trainer commented: “Crack Away Jack is having a wind operation so won’t be going to Cheltenham this year.

“Pause And Clause gave us a thrill when winning last year. He has fallen out of love with chasing this season but he will go hurdling in something at The Festival. Cheltenham certainly brings the best out of him. Any other runners we have will be in the handicaps.”

Lavelle, 37, took out a training licence in 1998 and is heading for her best season in Britain, with 25 winners so far. She sent out 30 winners in 2005/06.

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