Naas prep for National hope

TOM O’Leary reports Preists Leap to be in rude health ahead of his tilt at John Smith’s Grand National glory.

The nine-year-old won the valuable Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park for the second year in succession last month and his County Cork handler has been delighted with his homework since.

He is likely to run just once more before his date with destiny over the giant fences at Aintree on April 4, with an event at Naas currently being eyed up by his trainer.

“He’s had a day’s hunting and seems in great form with himself,” said O’Leary.

“He’s going to run in a three-mile chase in Naas on March 8 and then he will head straight to Aintree all being well.”

Meanwhile Tom Cooper will wait until later in the week before deciding whether River Liane will make the trip for next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

The five-year-old ran a huge race to finish third in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last month and Cooper has been delighted with his form since. The gelding holds entries at Dundalk and Leopardstown for later this week but he is unlikely take up either engagement if he is to head for the showpiece meeting, at which the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle looks his likely target.

“We’ll make a decision on what we’re going to do with him in the next 24 hours but if he’s going to Cheltenham, he won’t run at the weekend,” said Cooper.

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