Venalmar ready for Thurles return

MOUSE MORRIS is ready to let Venalmar make his long-awaited return in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Thurles tomorrow.

The seven-year-old was beaten a neck by Fiveforthree in the Ballymore Properties Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008, but has been off the track since he was virtually pulled up at Punchestown a month later.

He makes his return from injury over the minimum trip later this week, but Morris feels two miles will be far enough given the likelihood of testing conditions on Venalmar’s chasing debut.

“He’s in good fettle and the plan is to let him take his chance on Thursday,” said the Fethard-based handler.

“Two miles should be fine for him if it’s soft so fingers crossed he comes home safely.

“We’ll see how it goes before we think about any other plans for him.”

An early trip to Cheltenham is a possibility for China Rock following his first win over fences at Galway last week.

The six-year-old mixed it with some of the best around in novice hurdles last season, running fourth at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals.

The son of Presenting was beaten into third on his fencing debut but his recent defeat of the smart Alpha Ridge was much more like it and trainer Mouse Morris is confident his charge will continue to progress.

“He could go to Cheltenham in a couple of weeks for a novice chase or we might go to Punchestown for a race with him instead,” said Morris.

“I was delighted with him at Galway the last day considering the ground as he really battled on there at the end.

“It was a good performance because the second is no slouch and being by Presenting, our horse would be better on better ground.”

Meanwhile, Edward O’Grady will wait until the weights become clearer before deciding whether to let Tranquil Sea take his chance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday week.

A Grade One-winning hurdler, he made a successful chasing debut a year ago and bounced back to form with a stylish display in the Poplar Square Chase at Naas on Saturday.

“We were delighted with him and we’re always pleased when we have a winner. He’s come out of it in good form,” said O’Grady.

“I haven’t seen the handicap for Cheltenham yet and I don’t think it’s published until Thursday, so it’s difficult to say what we’ll do.”

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