Testing ground means I’m A Lumberjack is our sole runner at Aintree this week

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April 11

Alan was hoping to be sending a fistful of fancied runners to Aintree over the next three days, but, while the sun was shining over Merseyside this morning and the forecast for the entire meeting is looking much more favourable, the damage was done when two inches of rain fell earlier in the week.

Consequently, our only runner at Aintree will be I’m A Lumberjack in the Grade 2 bumper on Saturday, with the testing ground making it an easy decision for Alan to leave Masaccio, Favour And Fortune, Harbour Lake and Avakate at home.

This time last week even I’m A Lumberjack was doubtful as he had suffered a setback, but Alan was all smiles after he worked at Barbury last Saturday, so he has grabbed the chance to give him one last run in a bumper before he goes over hurdles in the autumn.

Twice at Newbury, I’m A Lumberjack has come from another county to snatch a place close home, but expect different riding instructions this time around.

Alan said:”I was happy with I’m A Lumberjack’s third in a Listed bumper at Newbury in February. He was a bit of a handful to saddle and got very sweaty, but basically he needs to grow up. Because of that, we dropped him right in that day to get him settled, and he made up a lot of ground in the last quarter-mile.

“If we’d been able to ride him normally he would not have been far away at the finish,, but whatever he does on Saturday I’m A Lumberjack will do plenty of schooling this spring and he looks an exciting prospect for novice hurdles next season.”

Provided the forecast for next week north of the border is as encouraging as it is in the south of England, then Alan might well re-route Masaccio, Favour And Fortune and Avakate to Ayr for the Scottish National meeting.

The more the ground dries out at Taunton today the better the chance of Helnwein in the opening novice hurdle. Alan added:”I was pleased to see that this has been made into a qualifier for the championship race at Sandown on the last day of the season.

“Helnwein needs to finish in the first four to get a place in the final, but he has good form, having won first time out at Warwick before running well in better class company at Sandown and Kempton. I was delighted how well he worked last week-end, so, hopefully, he’ll finish in the frame at least” Maybe even better, Alan, as he is one of the market-leaders.