Threeunderthrufive could be set for Cheltenham and Aintree double header

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Twice a Grade Two scorer as a novice chaser, he was quietly fancied for the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury earlier in the season only for his foray into open company over the larger obstacles to end in disappointment when regular pilot Adrian Heskin was unseated at the first fence. However, having skipped a run in the Welsh Grand National over the Christmas period, Threeunderthrufive and Heskin were in perfect harmony during Warwick's Classic Chase on Saturday - giving a bold sight from the front end before the testing ground took its toll in the closing stages. Connections were delighted with the display and confirmed the eight-year-old will now be targeted at the opening day handicap at the Festival - for which he is a best priced 25/1 - before a tilt at one of the various Nationals later in the spring. "We were really pleased in what was really his first start over fences this season having unseated in the Coral Gold Cup," said Iain Turner, racing manager for the McNeill family. "You could say it was only his second start of the season and also quite a time since his first at Wetherby in October. "I think the ground was just testing for him and I think the big disappointment is it was good to soft when we entered and if it stayed at that it would have been super. But it can't be helped - he has come out of the race fine and if he didn't run at Warwick, where would we have gone? "It was a hard enough race for him, so he will need a bit of time now to recover and freshen up, and we do have our eye on three-mile-plus staying chases in the spring." He continued: "All being well, we will probably be going straight to the Ultima. "Max (McNeill) has sponsored the race now for a good few years and we've had good representation previously with runners that ultimately haven't troubled the first four. But hopefully this lad can come on for his run and feature. "It was a nice bit of experience running in a big field (at Warwick). The way novice races go in the UK, you are only really taking on three and four runners through no fault of your own. So he now has a bit more experience under his belt in that regard and there are still very few miles on the clock. "I think in all probability it will be straight to Cheltenham, then after that one of the Nationals or the Bet365 Gold Cup (Sandown, April 29)." Although a decision on which of the English, Scottish or Irish Grand Nationals to run in is far from finalised, connections are aware a bold showing at Cheltenham could present them with a golden opportunity to head to Aintree on April 15 with a well-handicapped contender. "I think my immediate reaction would be Scotland would be more likely than Aintree," added Turner. "But given the weights are set for Aintree before the Ultima, if he comes out and wins or finishes second or whatever in the Ultima, he becomes well-in for the Grand National while the Scottish National would be revised weights. "We would consider Ireland as well because he does have a 100 per cent record going right-handed - although not that it matters at all because he doesn't jump violently one way or the other. "I think Warwick is a pretty good jumping test and his jumping hasn't posed any problems round there twice now - they've almost been two of his better performances I would say."

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