Roberto Goldback bids to build on his excellent second in the Irish Hennessy as he tackles 11 rivals in Sunday’s Carrickmines Handicap Chase at Leopardstown.
Dessie Hughes’ charge finished just two lengths adrift of Quel Esprit in the Grade One event and while he was never going to trouble the winner, he did post his best effort of the season in the process.
The 10-year-old was well beaten at Cheltenham back in December before claiming fourth in the Lexus Chase and second in a Thurles Grade Two.
Roberto Goldback will be saddled with top weight of 11st 12lb and while Hughes admits the drop to two miles and five furlongs is not really in his favour, he is seeking a good effort ahead of a planned Aintree raid.
“His last run was certainly his best so far this year, he just likes a bit of good ground,” said Hughes.
“The drop back in trip on Sunday wouldn’t be ideal but this will be his last run before he goes to Aintree.
“The trip wouldn’t be his best but it’s a handicap and not a Grade One, although he’s got plenty of weight.
“We weren’t really too disappointed with him in the early part of the year, he was still racing handy enough then.
“The plan is to go to Aintree and he could run in either the Bowl or the Grand National, we won’t make a decision on that until nearer the time though.”
Robert Goldback’s presence ensures that nearly half of the field competes from out of the handicap proper.
Mister First lines up with just 9st 10lb on his back but trainer Robbie Hennessy is hoping he can put up a bold show.
The six-year-old was a 14-length winner at Naas last time and while he races from out of the handicap, a good effort could put him in the frame for the Grand National meeting.
“He’s 6lb out of the handicap but we’re just going to let him take his chance as there’s not a whole lot coming up for him,” said Hennessy.
“We’re hoping he runs well and while he won on heavy last time, he won a point-to-point on good to firm and he looks the type of horse that could go on any ground really.
“It’s hard to know where to go with him, he’s only six, so Sunday will tell us a lot more about where we should be looking.
“He’s a brilliant jumper so something like the Topham on the Friday before the Grand National might be one to look at should everything go well at the weekend.
“He’s gone up 22lb in his three runs so if he keeps going up, we will have to look at those kind of races.”
Last year’s Irish Grand National victor and Aintree candidate Organisedconfusion makes a swift return for Arthur Moore after crashing out at the first in a Leopardstown handicap last weekend.
Follow The Plan finished fourth in the Hennessy and tries his luck again for Oliver McKiernan while Tony Martin fields two in Montan and Made In Taipan.