Hardy Eustace set for Hatton’s Grace test

DESSIE HUGHES has decided to let Hardy Eustace take his chance in Sunday’s Bar-One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The County Kildare trainer has been delighted with the 11-year-old’s well-being since his victory over Sizing Europe in the Maplewood Developments Hurdle at Punchestown earlier this month.

“We’ll run him on Sunday, he’ll do a bit of work tomorrow morning,” said Hughes.

“He’s not done much since Punchestown, but he’s come out of the race exceptionally well.”

The dual Champion Hurdle hero has yet to contest the Hatton’s Grace, though the first of his seven Grade One successes did come at Fairyhouse in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at this meeting in 2002.

Sublimity and Harchibald are among 10 possibles for the wbx.com “Fighting Fifth” Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

The former won the 2007 Champion Hurdle when in the care of John Carr and could have his first start for Robbie Hennessy, son of owner Bill, in this weekend’s Grade One contest.

The enigmatic Harchibald, winner of this race 12 months ago and in 2004, could return to obstacles having finished down the field on the all-weather at Dundalk last month.

Beau Michael and Harper Valley could also make the journey from Ireland, while Howard Johnson may be double-handed with another former winner, Arcalis, and Degas Art.

Blue Bajan, Punjabi, Noble Alan and Tazbar complete the field.

Meanwhile, Black Apalachi’s campaign is to revolve around a crack at the John Smith’s Grand National following his brilliant front-running win over Aintree’s fearsome fences.

The nine-year-old was a second-fence faller in the big race last season but took to the obstacles like a duck to water to emerge victories by a distance in the Becher Chase on Sunday.

“He was very good. He took to the fences and if horses do then they improve a stone,” said trainer Dessie Hughes.

“And it was a fabulous ride from Denis (O’Regan) too.

“The idea was to give him an exercise round the track. He got a fright when he fell at the second last season and took a bad fall.

“He’s back home now and he’s grand.

“We’re not going to run him too often, two or three times possibly. Maybe I’ll run him over hurdles before the National as I don’t think we can afford to run him in handicap chases, or maybe put him in a conditions chase.

“He’ll get into the handicap proper in the National now, no trouble.”

Black Apalachi is generally available at around 20-1 for the Grand National next spring.

Elsewhere, Inglis Drever could bid for a fourth successive victory in the toteswinger Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.

Graham Wylie’s amazing triple World Hurdle winner, trained by Howard Johnson, begins yet another campaign in the Grade Two test over an extended three miles.

He is unlikely to have things his own way as prospective rivals include old adversary, the Alan King-trained Blazing Bailey, who lowered his colours at Aintree in April.

Nicky Henderson has entered Cesarewitch winner Caracciola and Duc De Regniere, while other interesting possibles are Faasel, Pettifour, Hills Of Aran, Labelthou, Mobaasher, One Gulp and Souffleur.

Keith Reveley’s Tazbar also holds an entry in the “Fighting Fifth” Hurdle at Newcastle the same day.

There are two Irish raiders, Whatuthink and Johnnie Dillinger, while Sterling Moll completes the 15-strong list.

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