Whitmore aiming for the top with Casey

THE small yard of Leonard Whitmore is hoping to land another big handicap hurdle this weekend when Casey Top lines up in the MCR Hurdle at Leopardstown in Sunday.

Whitmore won the valuable Ballymore 25th Anniversary Hurdle with Brave Right at the 2008 Punchestown Festival.

Now he has his eyes set on the race formerly run as the Pierse with the eight-year-old, who was in good heart in the summer.

“He’s going to run in the MCR Hurdle and he’s had a little bit of a break to freshen him up for his first time back as he was campaigned all summer running four or five times,” said Whitmore.

“This race has sort of been the plan because we thought that we would start back over two miles and it is a good prize. He runs well fresh and he ran a good race at Punchestown at the start of last year.

“I wouldn’t say that a bit of cut is important to him – he just wouldn’t want it heavy but I’m fairly sure that it won’t be.

“The trip might be a bit short for him which would be my concern as he would be better at two and a half miles, but it’s a good old pot and we’ll take our chance.

“I’m hoping for the best and he would have every chance, you’d hope.”

Charlie Swan is another trainer with high hopes as he runs Prince Of Fire.

“I hope that he is going to go for the MCR Hurdle and he seems in good form,” said Swan.

“He ran a little bit disappointing over fences and was jumping a little bit low at the obstacles. The season is half over so we thought that we would go back to hurdles and possibly keep him for fences next season.

“It’s encouraging that he’s already won at Leopardstown, but he probably wouldn’t want the ground too heavy, although he’s all right on soft. I’m hoping that they don’t get too much rain or snow.”

The Noel Meade-trained Prima Vista was raised 15lb for his facile win at Leopardstown last month and is likely to be joined in the €100,000 context by stablemate Asigh Pearl, raised 6lb for beating top-rated Fosters Cross by two lengths at Fairyhouse in December.

Tony Martin, who won the race with the well-backed Xenophon in 2003, has three remaining - Montan, Northern Alliance, Tijuana Dancer - while Dermot Weld, successful with Archive Footage in 1999, is represented by New Phase.

Willie Mullins won this race with Adamant Approach in 2002 and he has left in Call The Police, Doctor Deejay and Final Approach.

The race failed to attract a sole British-trained entry as it was whittled down from the original entry list of 48, while the going at Leopardstown was described as soft yesterday.

Paddy Power bet: 5-1 Prima Vista, 8-1 New Phase, Tijuana Dancer, 12-1 Call The Police, Final Approach, 14-1 Asigh Pearl, Montan, Prince Of Fire, 16-1 Alpine Eagle, Capellanus, Doctor Deejay, Lancetto, Slieveardagh, 20-1 Casey Top, Marlay Park, Mubrook, Mutadarek, Un Hinged, Whodoyouthink, 25-1 bar.

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