Inca looks primed for Punchestown

COLM MURPHY revealed Brave Inca will take his chance in the ACC Bank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown on April 27.

Murphy indicated earlier this month the former champion hurdler was finished for the season after he chased home Sublimity at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, the nine-year-old is in such good order that Murphy sees no reason why he should not attempt to regain a title he won in 2005.

Brave Inca also finished second to Macs Joy in the race last year when Murphy felt he possibly had one race too many.

“I had originally said I probably wouldn’t run him again as I think I made a mistake running him there last year,” said Murphy.

“He has come back so well after Cheltenham and he is so fresh in himself that I think I have no choice but to run him at Punchestown.

“I’m thrilled to bits with him at the moment so we probably will run him. He went so fast from a long way out with Hardy Eustace and he has beaten everything we thought we had to beat so, in fairness, he has run a blinder.

“Compared to last year, I can’t believe how well he has come out of the race. Ground permitting, we will run but I haven’t given his jockey a thought as yet because we weren’t originally going.”

* NICKY HENDERSON will run just Liberthine in the John Smith’s Grand National next month, which will leave stable jockey Mick Fitzgerald looking around for a ride in the big race.

Liberthine won the Topham Chase over the Aintree fences last year but has disappointed this term, although she was found to be in season on the last two occasions.

She is always ridden by the owner’s son Sam Waley-Cohen and connections took the unusual step of getting her in foal on Tuesday as a precaution.

Henderson also has Iris Royal engaged, but said: “Liberthine would be my only runner. We took Liberthine to Polyglot last year (which failed), but this time we went to Hernando in Newmarket.

“Because she was in season last time it was an insurance policy to get her in foal to make sure she is not in season again at Aintree.”

Fitzgerald, who at one point announced he was to retire after the National and could still do so, is likely to be in demand from other trainers.

* CHAMPION HURDLE-winning jockey Philip Carberry feels Grand National mount Point Barrow is in “prime form” ahead of his big date on April 14.

Pat Hughes’ charge finished third over hurdles at Navan last Saturday – a race which Carberry believes has put him spot-on for Aintree.

“He put up a really good effort at Navan,” reflected Carberry. “He ran in that race last year and after that he went and won the Irish National.

“Pat has him in prime form for the English National and running over hurdles seems to be the natural progression as horses like Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde have done it recently. I’ve ridden a few times over the fences but not in the National itself. I’ve had a few good spins round there though.

“Point Barrow himself is a very safe jumper so it shouldn’t be much of a problem. It’s going to be exciting and hopefully it all comes right on the day,” the young rider said.

* JAMIE SPENCER has reiterated his desire to claim back the Flat jockeys’ championship he relinquished to Ryan Moore last year.

The Co Tipperary-born rider should be able to get a head start on his main rival, who is currently on the sidelines with a broken arm.

“It’s going to be a busy year and I’m looking forward to it starting. I’ve just been tootling about on the all-weather, but I’ve had a few winners at the start of this week,” said Spencer.

“I’d have to fancy my chances of being up there for the championship.”

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