It's "Towton Ahoy!" for Senor says Lucinda Russell

Ahoy Senor, beaten favourite in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, is likely to stay a little closer to home and head to Wetherby for the Towton Chase on February 5.

Those are the initial thoughts of his trainer Lucinda Russell, who reflected on his seven and a half length defeat by Bravemansgame at Kempton.

The six-year-old was sent off the 11-10 favourite for the Kauto Star and despite the defeat Russell was very happy with the efforts of her progressive gelding, who was making just his sixth start under Rules.

She said: "I'm delighted with him, he's a novice and his jumping wasn't great, but he ran to a very good level.

Our horse lacks a little bit of maturity and for some experience, but having said that he still ran a very nice race and he probably ran to the same standard as when winning the Sefton at Aintree.

"Derek (Fox) got off and said he's immense, don't be disappointed and that he's the best horse he's ever ridden.

"As Scu (Peter Scudamore, partner and assistant) had mentioned could be the case beforehand, the track just didn't really suit him, but we had to take on Bravemansgame at some point and the exciting thing is there is still plenty of improvement to come from Ahoy Senor."

Russell added that a trip to West Yorkshire on February 5 could be the next port of call for the son of Dylan Thomas, before the team at Kinross sure up plans for the spring festivals.

She said: "The Towton would be the right race for him, it gives him six weeks after Kempton and six-ish weeks before we have to decide about where to go after that (Cheltenham or Aintree).

The natural target for the elite staying novices is, of course, the Grade 1 Festival Chase (formerly known as the RSA Chase) and bookmakers currently have him high on their lists for that event, should connections chose to run him.

In the meantime, Russell is happy to take one step at a time. "He might get an entry at Lingfield for their meeting at the end of January, but Wetherby looks like being the right place as I think the track and fences around there will suit him," she says.

Sunday's result was almost an exact reversal of the outcome when Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame met over hurdles in the spring, with Russell's charge making every yard at Aintree to down Paul Nicholls' exciting prospect.

The duo have taken high rank over fences this term and the handler retains plenty of belief that her horse could come out on top again if the pair clash in the spring.

"When you stand back from it, it's great that these are the two top novice chasers in the UK and it's brilliant for us that one of them is ours," Russell said.

"I got quite a historical feeling coming back from Kempton, this was an exciting race with two really good horses and you don't mind being beaten by a really good horse, that's not a problem.

"No doubt we'll renew rivalry again in the future and may the best man win."

Latest Horse-racing Videos