Sky Bet Chase: Brian Ellison hoping Windsor Avenue can bounce back in Doncaster feature
Brian Ellison is optimistic Windsor Avenue can bounce back to form when bidding for a repeat victory in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.
The 11-year-old was a shock 40-1 winner of the Town Moor feature 12 months ago, but has been pulled up in four of his subsequent five starts.
His fourth-place finish behind the top-class L'Homme Presse in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on his penultimate start is giving his trainer hope, however, while he believes he has discovered a valid reason for his latest no-show in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
Ellison said: "He ran really well at Newcastle, but then he finished lame the last time he ran and we found out afterwards he was sore in his knees.
"Hopefully we've got him back. He's definitely working really well and we've managed to not miss anything with the bad weather, which is good.
"It's a hot race and he has been frustrating, but he is in great form and when he's on-song we know he's a good horse."
Windsor Avenue was fitted with blinkers for the first time in last year's renewal, but did not finish his next three races in the headgear and it has been left off the last two times.
"The blinkers are finished for him," Ellison added. "They worked at Doncaster last year, but they didn't work after that - he didn't want to know.
"He didn't even want to go out on the track with them on at Aintree [in October], so we took them off and he then ran well in the Rehearsal. Hopefully we can get back to that.".
Windsor Avenue was one of 22 horses left in the Sky Bet Chase at Monday's confirmation stage, with Mark Walford's Into Overdrive and Jamie Snowden's Ga Law two of the leading contenders.
Into Overdrive was second in the Rehearsal before going one better in the Rowland Meyrick, while Ga Law was last seen winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November.
The weights are headed by Nicky Henderson's Dusart, with Cap Du Nord [Christian Williams], the prolific Tea For Free [Charlie Longsdon] and Cooper's Cross [Stuart Coltherd] also standing their ground.