Royale Pagaille to make seasonal debut at either the Betfair Chase or Coral Gold Cup

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Owner Rich Ricci said the Venetia Williams-trained eight-year-old, who has won three of his for starts at Haydock - including the last two renewals of the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase - could bid to rectify the only blot on his copybook at the Merseyside track next month. Royale Pagaille is at his best when the mud is flying and should the ground go in his favour, he could bid to go one better than last season in the Betfair Chase, when going down to eventual Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard in the extended three-mile-one-furlong contest. Ricci said: "Royale Pagaille is fine. He is probably a little bit behind given the lack of rain, but he is a fine horse and was running a huge race in the Gold Cup on ground he wouldn't have liked. "I think the thing we have learned in the last two seasons is we've got a really nice horse on our hands, but he really is ground dependent. "If he really is going to compete in these big Grade Ones, he needs it to be soft or worse. I think we will stick with that this year. "He has done very well for us on ground that has not quite suited him, but to see him at his best, he needs to that soft to heavy ground." Williams like to bring her horses on gradually, paying great attention to their fitness, and invariably the King's Caple yard is one of the last to get the big guns rolling each autumn. Royale Pagaille looked very well when the Aramstone trainer paraded a quartet of horses before racing at Hereford recently. "He will have an entry in the Betfair at Haydock and he has an entry in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury, the old Hennessy," said Ricci. "He has got to carry 11st 10lb whichever race he runs in, so I think we will go based on ground, rather than by race. When he gets his ground, he is a hell of a horse. "They call him 'Al' in the yard, and he is great to own and a great purchase, and I'm delighted to have that one with Venetia." Williams will also train Fire Dancer for Ricci, the six-year-old Martaline gelding having previously had a handful of starts for Guillaume Macaire in France. "We have a second one with Venetia called Fire Dancer and she likes him as well, so hopefully she will keep the show on the road - she is a hell of a trainer," added Ricci.

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