Lavelle looks to Betfair Hurdle with Highly Prized

Highly Prized, ridden by Ben Jones, jumps the last
Image: Highly Prized, ridden by Ben Jones, jumps the last

Emma Lavelle is keen to run the nomadic Highly Prized in the Betfair Hurdle if conditions are suitable.

Having started his career with Lady Cecil in Newmarket, the son of Manduro was sold to America where he enjoyed a degree of success for Niall Saville and Mike Stidham.

After one run over hurdles in the USA, he was sent to Lavelle and was a 20-1 debut winner at Wincanton. He has since added wins at Newton Abbot and Huntingdon - but Lavelle fears soft ground may scupper her Newbury hopes.

"We are training Highly Prized for the Betfair Hurdle (on February 8)," said Lavelle.

"But he doesn't want soft ground. I may be being a bit optimistic, but every time I see the sun on my weather app, I think 'maybe'. I would love to be able to run him.

"He is really coming along well. The Betfair Hurdle was too valuable a race not to train him for and we are taking a bit of a punt with the weather."

Lavelle went on to explain how she came about the horse.

"Hilary Pridham, who is Mike Stidham's partner, took a share in the horse with Dan Donoghue, who was keen to explore new avenues," said Lavelle.

"He was just below Listed class on the Flat there and ran out of opportunities.

"Before he came to me, he had one run over hurdles in the US for Jack Fisher, just to make sure he could get off the ground. Hilary and Dan have both been over to watch him run.

"He is a decent horse who has enjoyed the training regime over here. I think he has plenty of ability and his confidence has kept growing.

"He won a nice prize at Huntingdon and although he went up 10lb, I think he is on the upgrade so it shouldn't be out of the way to be able to cope with that, but he will need the right conditions."

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