Connell undecided about running The Tullow Tank at Leopardstown

Equestrian: Leading owner Barry Connell is undecided whether to let The Tullow Tank line up at Leopardstown on Sunday week.

The dual Grade One-winning hurdler has disappointed the last twice over fences, but holds an entry in the Flogas Novice Steeplechase.

“We’ll see. We’re keeping an open mind about him,” said Connell.

“He’s going to have a schooling session in a week or so and we’ll go from there.

“He didn’t jump as well as he can over Christmas.”

Noel Meade meanwhile is hoping Monksland will stay fit for a crack at the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The eight-year-old has been limited to just nine career starts, winning three times at Grade Two level in 2012 before being sidelined for two years.

He returned to action with a third-placed finish at Leopardstown over Christmas and followed up with a narrow defeat at Gowran last Thursday, giving Meade plenty of hope for a Cheltenham run.

Meade said: “He was good after it. It was disappointing he didn’t win but he didn’t run too bad and he certainly came on from Leopardstown.

“We’ve had to train him very tenderly and take it slowly but he’s run two solid races now.

“If he stays right we’ll have a crack at it (World Hurdle). He hated that ground as well and I’d imagine he’ll be better on better ground. Paul (Carberry) always felt he would be.”

Monksland can be backed at 20-1 for the Festival event but is as low as 12-1 in a place.

David Bridgwater is relishing a fourth crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup with The Giant Bolster after declaring himself “thrilled to bits” with his stable star’s latest effort at Prestbury Park on Saturday.

The 10-year-old has finished second, fourth and third respectively in the last three renewals of the blue riband, last year beaten just three-quarters of a length in a pulsating finish.

He failed to fire on his reappearance in Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but fared better when fifth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and took another step forward to finish fourth behind Many Clouds in yesterday’s BetBright Cup.

Bridgwater is adamant his pride and joy will be in even better shape come March and is confident he will be involved in the finish once again.

“I was absolutely thrilled to bits with him. Without winning it or picking up a bit more prize-money, it was the perfect result,” said the trainer.

“The pace of the race didn’t help. He’s a horse who needs to be off the bridle after a mile and he was still cantering after two miles yesterday.

“It looked as though he was going to beaten 100 lengths at the top of the hill and he’s ended up being beaten just over seven, so it was a fantastic run.

“We knew even going into the race that he’s not quite there yet and that he’d be better on his next run. He’s enjoyed himself and finished fresh and well.

“A bigger field and a stronger pace will bring out the best in him in March and I’m not worried about anything.

“He probably prefers a bit better ground, but soft ground isn’t really an issue if it were to come up soft."


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