sport

Aintree on Fox Appeal agenda

Fox Appeal is to bypass Cheltenham for the two-and-a half-mile Betfred Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree following his Doncaster defeat.

Trainer Emma Lavelle's suspicion that the seven-year-old needs further than two miles to be at his very best was borne out when he stayed on well to finish third behind Valdez and Arnaud in the Lightning Novices' Chase over that trip.

Fox Appeal will run next in the Pendil Novices' Chase over an extended two and a half miles at Kempton on February 22 before being primed for the Grade One on Merseyside in April.

"It showed us what we needed to find out, that he is very good but very good over two and a half, not two miles," said Lavelle.

"He stayed on, he gave weight (3lb) to the others, but I think his jumping just suffered slightly because they were going that half a stride quicker than ideal for him.

"It was a very good run, but I think his perfect trip is a quick two and a half miles, which means Cheltenham will be ruled out.

"I imagine we'll aim for the Pendil at Kempton and then go to Aintree for the two and a half mile novice. That has always been his target. We just wondered whether we would go to Cheltenham as well or not. The reality is we're not."