Long Run back on Gold trail at Punchestown

Long Run is set to make his first visit to Ireland for the tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup on April 24.

The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero is likely to be joined by his Nicky Henderson-trained stablemate Riverside Theatre in the Grade One over three miles and a furlong.

“As things stand they are both due to run. They’ve come out of Cheltenham very well so we are looking forward to Punchestown, where I expect to send a good team,” said Henderson.

Long Run has finished third in the last two runnings of the Gold Cup.

Sir Des Champs, who finished ahead of him in second at Cheltenham last month, is among the 19 entries, as is First Lieutenant, winner of the Betfred Bowl at Aintree.

The opening day on April 23 may yet be graced by the appearance of the brilliant Sprinter Sacre after Henderson’s superstar took his unbeaten record over fences to nine in the Aintree’s Melling Chase.

Sizing Europe and Flemenstar, who have been put in their place by “the black horse” recently, also figure in the list for the boylesports.com Champion Chase.

Willie Mullins’ Quevega and the Charles Byrnes-trained Solwhit could clash in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle on April 25, which the former has won for the last three years.

Cheltenham Champion Hurdle victor Hurricane Fly may bid to try to win the Rabobank Champion Hurdle on April 26 for the fourth year running, when potential rivals could include Rock On Ruby, his closest pursuer last month.

The Mullins-trained Annie Power, unbeaten in seven starts, and Eddie Harty’s Dressedtothenines are the eyecatching entries in the inaugural running if the ITBA Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle on April 27.

Our Conor, brilliant winner of the Triumph Hurdle, tops 15 entries for the AES Champion 4-Y-O Hurdle on April 27.

“I want to run him at Punchestown. He’s come out of Cheltenham in fabulous shape,” said trainer Dessie Hughes.

“It was a fabulous performance and I was surprised how easily he was going. We’ll look forward to Punchestown.”

* Kingsbarns is still reported to be on course for the Investec Derby despite being a major doubt for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Aidan O’Brien’s Racing Post Trophy winner suffered a setback which caused him to miss a racecourse gallop at the Curragh two weeks ago.

“He had a stone bruise, he is only back in light work now and he is getting better,” said the trainer’s jockey son, Joseph, who was speaking at Gowran Park.

“He was working very well before his setback and we thought he would be back for the Curragh (the gallop on the opening day of the season).

“The Guineas is looking unlikely now but there is no reason he won’t be ready for the Derby.”

The Jim Bolger-trained Dawn Approach is hot favourite for the Newmarket Classic on May 4 and connections have not ruled out adding him to the field for the Derby at Epsom on June 1.

* Grand National-winning rider Ryan Mania is to spend a second night in hospital as he awaits a final MRI scan, before hopefully being discharged today, his agent Bruce Jeffrey said.

Mania, 23, was taken by air ambulance to hospital in Newcastle following a fall at Hexham on Sunday, on his return to action after winning the National on the Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore.

The Scotsman was linking up once again with Bingley-based Smith in the St John Lee Handicap Hurdle.

However, his mount Stagecoach Jasper came down early on the final circuit. Mania was conscious following the fall and was put into the air ambulance on a spinal board before being taken to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary for further assessment.

In a statement to Press Association Sport last night, Jeffrey said: “Ryan Mania will be staying for a second night at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

“The 23-year-old Grand National winner is waiting for a final MRI scan to give him the all-clear and allow him to return home. It is expected he will have the scan tomorrow and then leave the hospital.”

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