Brian Ellison is optimistic Windsor Avenue can get back into shape in a bid for another win in the Sky Bet Chase in Doncaster on Saturday.
The 11-year-old was a shock 40-1 winner of the Town Moor feature 12 months ago but has been pulled in four of his five subsequent starts.
His fourth place behind top-class L’Homme Presse in the repeat pursuit at Newcastle on his penultimate start gives hope to his coach, however, as he believes he has discovered a valid reason for his latest non- presentation in the Rowland Meyrick in Wetherby on Boxing Day.
Ellison said: “He ran very well at Newcastle, but he ended up lame the last time he raced and we found out afterwards that he had bad knees.
“I hope we got him back. He is working really well and we managed not to miss anything with the bad weather, which is good.
“It’s a hot race and he’s been frustrating, but he’s in great shape and when he sings we know he’s a good horse.”
Windsor Avenue was first fitted with blinders at last year’s renewal, but did not complete its next three races in the headgear and it was left out the last two times.
“The blinders are over for him,” Ellison added. “They worked at Doncaster last year, but they didn’t work after that – he didn’t want to know.
“He didn’t even want to go out on the track with them at Aintree [in October], so we took them off and he then ran well in the rehearsal. I hope we can get back there.”
Windsor Avenue was one of 22 horses remaining in the Sky Bet Chase during Monday’s confirmation leg, with Mark Walford’s Into Overdrive and Jamie Snowden’s Ga Law two of the main contenders.
Into Overdrive finished second in the repeat before doing better in the Rowland Meyrick, while Ga Law was last seen winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November.
The weights are led by Nicky Henderson’s Dusart, with Cap Du Nord [Christian Williams]the prolific Tea For Free [Charlie Longsdon] and Cooper’s cross [Stuart Coltherd] also hold their ground.
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