Sacre stays in Champion line-up

Sprinter Sacre stood his ground among eight entries remaining in the Champion Chase at Punchestown on Tuesday but Flemenstar has been ruled out after connections decided to give the eight-year-old a wind operation.

Flemenstar’s trainer Peter Casey said: “He won’t be running in Punchestown.

“When he came home from Liverpool, he was all wrong. He had stuff coming out of his nose, it wasn’t blood but it was a bit like it, and the vet came to see him every day for a week. He’s going to have a little wind operation now.

“Hopefully the everything will be right for next season, it will be the same routine, and the next time you’ll see him will probably be at Navan in November (Fortria Chase).”

Some 19 lengths behind Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase was Sizing Europe, and Henry de Bromhead’s 11-year-old, winner of this race 12 months ago, could reoppose.

Second to Henderson’s ‘black aeroplane’ at Aintree was the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card, and he too still holds an engagement.

Henderson has an alternative to Sprinter Sacre in Finian’s Rainbow, fourth to his illustrious stablemate in the two and a half mile Melling Chase at Aintree.

De Bromhead also has a second string to his bow in the shape of Days Hotel.

Foildubh, Mad Moose and Noble Prince complete the octet.

Sir Des Champs and Long Run, second and third respectively in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, are on course to clash in Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday.

Long Run’s trainer Nicky Henderson has also left in Riverside Theatre, with Paul Nicholls responsible for Kauto Stone, a Grade One winner at Downpatrick in November.

Disappointing in two runs since then, Kauto Stone accounted for First Lieutenant in that win and could meet the Mouse Morris-trained horse again.

Sizing Europe also has the option of this three-mile-one-furlong event in addition to the two-mile Champion Chase on Tuesday.

John Smith’s Grand National third Teaforthree has been left in by Rebecca Curtis, with Chicago Grey, pulled up at Aintree having been well fancied, a possible starter for Gordon Elliott.

Ted Walsh’s Seabass, 13th in the National, is another still entered.

Captain Chris, Pandorama, Noble Prince and Whodoyouthink complete the line-up.

Charles Byrnes is hopeful stable star Solwhit will be ready to line up at Punchestown after returning home from his impressive Aintree triumph “a bit flat”.

The nine-year-old is set for a tantalising clash with Willie Mullins’ mare Quevega in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle.

Byrnes said: “As long as he is 100 per cent, I am looking forward to taking on Quevega and it looks like it is going to be a really good race.

“I will leave a definite decision until the weekend.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox