Harrington fine-tunes Flyer

JESSICA HARRINGTON will put the finishing touches to Moscow Flyer’s Cheltenham Festival preparations with a spin over fences today.

Big-race pilot Barry Geraghty is due at Mrs Harrington’s County Kildare yard to put the 11-year-old through his paces ahead of the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

“He seems to be grand. We’re very happy with his preparation,” Mrs Harrington told Racing UK.

“Barry is coming down tomorrow to give him a pop over three fences and then he will go to the Curragh on Wednesday, and we will see if he needs another bit before he goes over on Sunday night.

“He’s finished all his serious work now.”

Moscow Flyer will be trying for a second win in the two-mile race after his victory in 2003 and he may well have played a part in the finish last year had he not unseated Geraghty four fences from home.

The Moscow Society gelding remains unbeaten in every chase he has finished and Mrs Harrington added: “I think he seems to be as well as ever. He’s a bit more mature now and he’s in great form.”

Last year’s Queen Mother winner Azertyuiop will be back to defend his title while Well Chief, who took the Arkle Chase last season, will have a first crack at the Grade One event.

“It will be a great race and I have the utmost respect for both those horses,” said Mrs Harrington.

Macs Joy is set to represent the yard in Tuesday’s Smurfit Champion Hurdle, the big event on the first day of the Festival meeting.

The six-year-old is an 8-1 shot with Ladbrokes for the race after winning the December Festival Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle on his last two starts.

“He’s very well and worked this morning at the Curragh. He went over 10 furlongs up the grass and Barry rode him and he was very happy with him,” said Mrs Harrington.

“He’s had seven weeks (since the Irish Champion Hurdle) so I think that’s been a long enough time. He seems to be in good form.”

Irish horses dominate the Champion Hurdle betting with Back In Front and last year’s winner Hardy Eustace vying for favouritism, while Rooster Booster at around 12-1 is the shortest-priced home runner.

“I think it looks very competitive. I think whoever gets the run of the race and makes no mistakes is the one who is going to win it, because I think they are all close together,” Mrs Harrington added.

She will also be represented in the Arkle Trophy by Ulaan Baatar. The eight-year-old showed his best form when landing the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown in January, but he was well beaten in a Grade Two event at Navan last time.

Mrs Harrington felt there were excuses for that defeat, though, and she is expecting better this time.

“He wasn’t 100 per cent after that run but he appears to be back to his best. I’m very happy with,” she said.

“I think he’s got a good each-way chance if things went right for him.”

Ulaan Baatar is as low as 10-1 with Coral for the Arkle.

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