Wichita in line for Fairyhouse

Wichita in line for Fairyhouse

Connections of Wichita Lineman are hoping top-weight Notre Pere takes his chance in the Powers Whiskey Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse tomorrow.

Should Jim Dreaper feel the ground is unsuitable for his Welsh National winner the weights would then go up 7lb, with Wichita Lineman left heading the handicap.

Owner JP McManus, trainer Jonjo O'Neill and jockey Tony McCoy were successful with Butler's Cabin two years ago and Wichita Lineman is fresh from his dramatic victory in the William Hill Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

"He's come out of his race well at Cheltenham and is in good form. He could end up with top weight (if Notre Pere doesn't run) which would not be a help," said the owner's racing manager Frank Berry.

"Let's hope it rains tonight so the top weight runs.

McManus holds a strong hand with three other horses - Cheltenham cross-country winner Garde Champetre, Arbor Supreme and Breaking Silence - carrying his colours.

"Garde Champetre has been good at that level in cross-country races. It will be interesting to see how he gets on now he's back up in class again, but Enda (Bolger) is very happy with him," Berry went on.

"Arbor Supreme will like the good ground. He's been in good form ran well the last day at Down Royal. It's a wide-open race but we're hopeful of a good run.

"We're a bit in the unknown with Breaking Silence. He's stepping up in class and we'd be delighted if he ran a good race."

Trainer Tom Taaffe added of the latter: "We were actually a bit disappointed with him at Navan but maybe that is just as good as he is.

"He seems very well in himself and is working well at home so hopefully he has got a sporting chance."

Noel Meade is keeping his fingers crossed the rain stays away from Fairyhouse for Casey Jones.

"The better the ground the better his chance really and we just have to hope that the top horses stay in to keep our weight down," said Meade.

"We know our lad stays well so I think the trip should be fine for him, it is just a case of the ground being right for him.

"He wasn't disgraced at Cheltenham where the ground was probably a bit tacky for him and he seems to have come out of that race in good enough shape.

"If conditions are right for him I hope he will run a big race."

Poker De Sivola was one of the gambles of the Cheltenham Festival when sent off favourite for the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase, but the ground was too tacky for him and he could only finish seventh.

His trainer Ferdy Murphy knows exactly what is required to win an Irish National, having taken the race with Granit D'Estruval in 2004 and finished second with Nine De Sivola - like Poker De Sivola a novice - in 2007.

The North Yorkshire-based handler said: "He ran well and jumped great in Cheltenham but got trapped out wide and the race didn't pan out in the way that we had wanted.

"Anyway he jumped around there and seems in good order and the experience will have done him good.

"I think he'll stay the three-mile-five trip as he travels well in races. In the Irish National you have got to get into a rhythm early on and get jumping.

"I'd like to see Notre Pere [top weight] run as that would help our chances. But they're worried about a possible lack of rain, which would suit our lad, and you can't have it both ways."

Dessie Hughes reports his four-strong team to be in top form as the County Kildare trainer bids to win the race for a second time after Timbera in 2003.

"They are all very well. Rare Bob is in good nick and he has a nice weight, Vic Venturi ran in the race last year and we also have Justpourit and Oulart. He was second a couple of years ago when he was a novice," said Hughes.

"We've a bit of a chance with the four of them. They are all in good form and hopefully they'll get placed and one of them might win it. The ground is perfect for them all."

Tony Martin has three runners as he tries to add to Davids Lad's win in this race eight years ago.

Royal County Star and Newbay Prop were second and fifth respectively while Cheltenham Festival runner-up Drumconvis completes his trio.

"The good ground will help Royal County Star so hopefully he'll run well," said the County Meath trainer.

"Drumconvis ran well in Cheltenham but I wouldn't want the ground to dry out too much for him.

"Newbay Prop ran a blinder in this race last year and ran well at Cheltenham last month as well. He's in really good form. He could do with a bit of rain to slow the other horses up.

"You'd be hoping they all have each-way chances. Luck in running is the most important thing and that they all come back safe."

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