Hales considers options for Millers Bank

Exciting novice chaser Millers Bank could head to Ascot on a recovery mission after blundering away a winning chance at Newbury on Friday.

The Alex Hales-trained seven-year-old looked sure to score when left in the lead four out in a Grade Two at the Berkshire venue, but unseated Harry Bannister at the penultimate fence, leaving Nassalam to win with ease.

Hopes were high last season’s Aintree Hurdle third would build upon a winning chase debut at Huntingdon, but now the Edgcote handler is having to re-think his options.

Hales said: “He seems absolutely fine after the race, albeit a little quiet. Physically he was fine. It was a nasty shock for him, his trainer and his jockey!

“To be honest, and this will sound very cocky, the plan was to win that race and then go Ascot for the Howden Noel Novices’ Chase, a Grade Two on December 17th, or he would go to Kempton for the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day, but if I’m honest, my plans are slightly up in the air.

“At the moment, I’m half thinking we might go for the (Paddy Power) Dipper Novices’ Chase (on New Year’s Day), but there is a worry about the ground. It might be heavy and he doesn’t want very soft ground.

“I think I’d like to go to Ascot, but we are ground dependent and from every turn now, it is going to be soft ground.

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“He wants a little bit of juice and while he has won on heavy, he doesn’t really want heavy ground.”

Hales is keen for Tuesday’s runaway Doncaster winner Nextdoortoalice to take a step up in class after she scooted to a 10-length victory in the Virgin Bet Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

He added: “She is a nice horse but she probably won a poor race. It is a case of whether we sit low or whether we go for a Listed Hurdle for fillies at Haydock just before Christmas – that can cut up a bit and she might have the opportunity to pick up a bit of Black Type. Ideally, that is what we’d want.”

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