Central House sets himself up nicely for Festival

CENTRAL HOUSE set himself up for the Cheltenham Festival when running out an embarrassingly easy winner of the Paddy & Helen Cox Memorial Newlands Chase at Naas yesterday.

Paul Carberry oozed confidence aboard the 4-7 favourite, who made all to come home a comfortable seven-length winner of the Grade Two contest.

Only four went to post to try to capture the €42,315 first prize, with Native Upmanship confirming he is not the force of old by finishing second ahead of Scarthy Lad, while Grand National hope Macs Gildoran came home a distant fourth.

Central House found only the smart Rathgar Beau too strong last time out, having won his previous two starts, but his trainer Dessie Hughes is unsure about future targets.

“He’s entered in the Mildmay Of Flete and the Champion Chase, so is a possibility for those two,” he said.

Coral reacted by cutting the eight-year-old to 25-1 from 33s for the Champion Chase and gave him a quote of 8-1 for the Mildmay, while Cashmans introduced him at 14-1 for the same race.

“I will probably stick to two miles as he is doing it well, which rules out the Daily Telegraph Chase, and while he will probably go to Cheltenham, there is a good prize at Fairyhouse I will also consider,” added Hughes.

“He is improving and Paul rides him well.”

Native Upmanship, now a 12-year-old, finished behind Central House for the third time this season, and trainer Arthur Moore said: “We’ll either go for the Daily Telegraph or the Mildmay Of Flete, depending on how the weights look.”

Well Presented, last seen chasing home stablemate Carrigeen Victor in the Dr P J Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown earlier this month, went one better in the Grade Two Anglo Irish Bank Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase.

Patiently ridden by Robbie Power, the 11-10 favourite took up the running in the home straight and despite idiling in front, had too many guns for Healy’s Pub, winning by five lengths.

“Robbie said he was doing nothing when he took the lead, but the loose horse kept him going, popping his fences,” said winning trainer Jessica Harrington.

“He’s not entered at Cheltenham and we’ll just see what the handicapper does, but he has plenty of options.

“He stays all day and would prefer better ground, so we will consider the Midlands and Irish Nationals, and there is a three-mile novice chase at Aintree that is a possibility.”

Black Apalachi caused an upset when sweeping to the lead at the second-last to scoop the Woodlands Park 100 Johnstown Novice Hurdle under John Cullen.

Well-backed favourite Homer Wells tried his best to peg back the 20-1 winner, but it was to no avail and despite a Grade Two course-and-distance win to his name, Willie Mullins’ charge could only come home in second.

“We fancied him the last day in Leopardstown (when sixth) but he came home with sore shins and never travelled well,” said trainer Philip Rothwell.

“He is entered in the Coral Cup and the three-mile novice hurdle at Cheltenham, but we might wait until Punchestown with him - we’ll have to think about it.”

Cashmans introduced Black Apalachi into the betting for the Brit Insurance Novices’ Hurdle at 20-1.

“The best I have ever had,” was the praise heaped on Publican by trainer Pat Fahy after the gelding bolted home in the opening Saggart Maiden Hurdle.

Backed off the boards into 1-2 favourite, the five-year-old scored by an easy seven lengths under Ruby Walsh and now has the world at his feet, according to his handler.

“He is good - very good,” said Fahy. “He has had the cold so the plan was to get today over, and he could go anywhere he wants to.”

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