Leg problem forces Lark’s retirement

GRANGECLARE Lark, a leading contender for the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, has been retired.

The seven-year-old won six times over hurdles but a leg problem has forced trainer Dessie Hughes to call time on her racing career.

He told the Racing Post: “It is most unfortunate but we have had to retire the mare.

“She was a very good and tough performer and there was plenty to look forward to with her. She is to be covered by Gamut.”

Grangeclare Lark made her final appearance at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting when she won the Listed Bewleys Hotel Dublin Airport Mares’ Hurdle for the second consecutive year.

Meanwhile Souffleur is set for a few weeks on the easy list after his disappointing show at Warwick on Saturday.

The five-year-old, winner of the Grade One Challow Hurdle last month, could finish no better than third behind Carruthers in the Grade Two Ballymore Properties Leamington Novices’ Hurdle.

However, trainer Peter Bowen found the gelding to be coughing following his 30-length defeat.

“He came back and coughed badly,” said Bowen. “He coughed all the way from the enclosure back to the stables. Something was obviously greatly amiss and you can put a line through that run.

“We will just isolate him now for a couple of weeks and then, hopefully, we can work towards Cheltenham.”

Souffleur is a 20-1 shot with William Hill for the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in March.

Victor Dartnall is mulling the options for Lodge Lane ahead of a possible Cheltenham Festival bid.

The seven-year-old has won four of his five starts, with his only defeat coming in the Champion Bumper at Prestbury Park last March.

Successful on his hurdling bow, Lodge Lane followed up at Exeter last time when he beat Carruthers, who went on to claim yesterday’s Ballymore Properties Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick.

Dartnall could now pitch his gelding into Grade Two company at Doncaster later this month, or head for a slightly easier alternative.

“He will probably go for the River Don at Doncaster or there is a three-mile hurdle at Bangor,” he said.

“It will probably depend on the ground as we want it on the softer side for him. He has come of the race in great form.”

* Today’s fixture at Plumpton is subject to an inspection at 7.30am after a deluge of rain at the course in recent days.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox