Cheshire-based National Hunt trainer Donald McCain has welcomed his old stager Cloudy Lane back into his yard after a spell point-to-pointing under the guidance of his wife Sian, who managed to qualify the veteran for the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase and saddled him to win a hunter chase at Ayr last month, writes Elliot Slater.
Cloudy Lane, one of a significant number of horses at the yard owned by Trevor Hemmings, (including last year's John Smith's Grand National winner Ballabriggs), will run in McCain's own name at the Cheltenham Festival as he bids to maintain his 100% record at the track having won on his only previous outing at the Prestbury circuit when beating Parson's Legacy by three-quarters-of-a-length to land the 12007 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup in memorable fashion. Fans of the best ante-post Cheltenham betting will be keeping a close eye on him.
Eighth to Don't Push It in the 2010 Grand National having spectacularly unseated Jason Maguire at The Chair when prominent in the previous year's renewal of the ‘world's greatest steeplechase', Cloudy Lane has been a grand servant to connections winning 11 of his 33 races, including the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster and both the Tommy Whittle Chase and the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, a course where he goes particularly well.
Absent for more than 20 months after his last run in the Grand National having been sidelined through injury, 12-year-old Cloudy Lane has come back sound this term and already looks set to make a big name for himself in the hunter chase sphere. His win at Ayr in February followed an excellent first run after his long absence when a six-length runner-up to Chapoturgeon in a hunter chase at Newbury a month earlier, and bookmakers rate him a solid 10/1 chance to reverse form with his Newbury conqueror (the 6/1 ante-post favourite), in the Cheltenham Foxhunters Chase on March 16.