Hennessy unconcerned by Gold Cup delay

Robbie Hennessy feels putting thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup back to tomorrow from Wednesday will have no ill effects on Rubi Light.

Because the trainer’s County Meath base is less than an hour away from the course, Rubi Light remained tucked up in his box while the decision to re-arrange the Grade One feature was made because of the heavy rain that has hit the track this week.

“Everything is grand. It’s not been a bother. I’m only about 40 minutes from the track so the horse never even left his stables,” said Hennessy.

“Putting the race back a few days has made no difference to us whatsoever.

“Two or three days would have been a different story if we’d had to travel over to England, come back and then go back again, but he never had to leave his box so there’s no problems there.”

While Rubi Light is suited by soft and heavy ground, he has only stepped up to three miles once when he was runner-up to Synchronised in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December.

“The ground should suit, everything is looking in his favour for a big run,” said Hennessy.

“He’s run over three miles and finished second to the horse that went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

“If he puts in that performance he’ll be there or thereabouts.”

Willie Mullins is confident Quel Esprit is back at the top of his game.

After completing a hat-trick of victories for the season in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February, the bold-jumping grey was considered Ireland’s major hope of grabbing Cheltenham Gold Cup glory last month. But after failing to please connections when taking to the Prestbury Park turf on the morning of the blue riband, he was withdrawn from the race.

The champion trainer has been pleased with his eight-year-old’s subsequent homework, however, and feels the rain-softened ground will be right up his street.

“We never really found anything wrong with him after Cheltenham. Paul (Townend) just rode him on the morning of the race and wasn’t happy with the way he was moving, but we’ve been pleased with him at home since,” said Mullins.

“All the rain that has fallen will definitely be a big help to him and hopefully he has a big chance.

“It’s 10 years since we won this race with Florida Pearl and it would be great to win it again.”

Mullins has a second runner in the three-mile-one-furlong contest in outsider Apt Approach, but admits he is likely to be out of his depth.

“It’s going to be very tough for him, but there isn’t anywhere else I can run him and at least he will go in the ground,” he said.

Oliver McKiernan’s Follow The Plan won this race last year and defends his crown a fortnight after causing a 50-1 upset in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Quantitativeeasing and the Dessie Hughes duo of Roberto Goldback and Magnanimity are others in the line-up. Bostons Angel, Captain Chris and Noble Prince have not been declared from the original field of 10.

There is one addition, however, the Mouse Morris-trained China Rock. He makes his second appearance of the week after finishing fourth behind Sizing Europe in the Boylesports.com Champion Chase over two miles on Tuesday.

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