Shock winner of the Fighting Fifth last season, Cornerstone Lad will once again try and perform a miracle as his trainer Micky Hammond bids to land the race for a second successive season.
The stable star made his first appearance of the season on the flat at Redcar in October and then returned there on Tuesday when getting off the mark for the season in the one-mile-six-furlong handicap by a neck from Jackamundo.
His handler took a similar route on his way to the Grade One win last season and believes the six year old will be in prime form by the time the race comes around.
(Credit ATR) “We did it last year,” Hammond said
“He won on the Flat at Catterick before he won at Wetherby and then went on to the Fighting Fifth. That shows he’s well capable of winning on the Flat, but obviously he’s a far better jumper than a Flat horse.
“That was our thinking behind it really, but it was great that he got his head back in front.”
Hammond is hoping that his superstar can cause another shock, but it does look like the field will be tougher than last season.
This will be Cornerstone Lad's last time over hurdles before he begins to campaign over fences.
He’s going to the Fighting Fifth, he’ll be going back to Newcastle for that,” he said.
“I think the long-term plan would be to go steeplechasing, he’s been schooling over fences as well as hurdles and I think that’s probably the route he’ll go down, that will happen after Newcastle.”