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Warwick part of Grand plan for Equester

AINTREE Grand National hope Neptune Equester could take his chance in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday.

The nine-year-old showed he has stamina in abundance when winning an attritional contest at Haydock on his penultimate start and he was not disgraced when fifth in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby.

Brian Ellison is keen for his charge to increase his rating to enhance his chances of getting a run in the Grand National at Aintree and a good showing at Warwick would aid his cause.

"We've put him in there and we'll have a look at the race and make a decision later in the week. There aren't that many options for him," said Ellison.

"He ran well enough at Wetherby. They just went too slow for him and all he does is stay. Ideally he could do with a bit further as well.

"He's won over three and a half miles at Haydock, so you'd think the trip on Saturday would suit him well.

"He's rated 136 at the moment and we'd like him to go up a bit as the race we really want to go for is the Grand National."

Neptune Equester is one of 17 entries for this weekend's Grade Three handicap, with last year's winner West End Rocker an absentee as expected.

David Pipe has Faasel, Shaking Hands and Sona Sasta all engaged, while other interesting contenders include potential top-weight Hey Big Spender, Key Cutter, Blazing Bailey.

Meanwhile, Tony Martin remains upbeat about the long-term prospects of Dedigout, even though he suffered a first defeat over hurdles at Naas on Sunday.

The Punchestown and Navan winner was sent off the hot favourite for the Grade Two Slaney Novice Hurdle, but had to make do with an honourable third behind runaway winner Monksland.

Martin feels his charge performed with credit, and sees him as a staying chaser for the future. "There's not a bother on him and it wasn't a bad run," said the Co Meath handler.

"He's still inexperienced and he got in a bit close to the second-last. The winner was impressive and we were just beaten by a better horse on the day. Our lad is a real staying chaser in the making and there is still plenty to look forward to with him."

Irish Independent