Thunder could hit Cheltenham

Connections of Black Thunder have Cheltenham in mind after he took his 100 per cent record over fences to three with victory at Lingfield.

The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding outpointed Shotgun Paddy in the RSA Novices' Trial Chase to complete a hat-trick after wins at Fontwell and Haydock.

Black Thunder is now likely to take a break before being prepared for Cheltenham, where the RSA Chase would be the prime option.

"We were absolutely delighted. It was a three-runner race, but even so it was nice to win. His jumping made the difference," said co-owner Barry Fulton.

"Paul usually rests a few of his horses in January so I think he'll probably have a break, he's had three runs.

"Then maybe we'll try to find a race for him before going for something at the Festival if the ground's not too firm.

"Obviously the RSA Chase is quite an appealing option."

Meanwhile, next year's Coral Welsh National is the likely aim for Emma Lavelle's Shotgun Paddy.

The six-year-old seemingly has endless stamina and relishes testing ground, conditions generally guaranteed for the Chepstow marathon.

After finishing a distant third behind Black Thunder and Many Clouds at Haydock on his previous start Emma Lavelle's charge bounced back to form, only going down by two and three-quarter lengths.

"I don't think Haydock suited him, he also lost a shoe and came back quite sore," said Dan Downie, who manages the owning Axom syndicate.

"That was much more like it on Saturday, if anything the ground still wasn't soft enough, it certainly wasn't at Haydock, he wants it heavy and a real test, he's just an out-and-out galloper.

"It was as we thought with him really, he's unlikely to ever get his ground at the Festivals and you'd think next year's Welsh National would be for him."