Down Royal date for Lieutenant

The Champion Chase at Down Royal next month is the likely next port of call for First Lieutenant after he was beaten on his seasonal reappearance at Punchestown last week.

Down Royal date for Lieutenant

The Mouse Morris-trained eight-year-old was runner-up in the Down Royal Grade One last year before going on to be placed in the Lexus Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the Punchestown Gold Cup.

First Lieutenant did enjoy his day in the sun when winning the Betfred Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

He was an odds-on favourite for his comeback run in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Chase but was beaten into third by fellow Gigginstown-owned runners Toner D’Oudairies and Roi Du Mee.

While the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 2 is an option, Morris is favouring staying at home with his star stayer.

He said: “There’s not a bother on him and we were happy enough.

“They didn’t go much of a gallop and it turned into a bit of sprint, but he’ll improve for the run.

“Depending on the ground, I think he’ll probably go to Down Royal. We’ll support our own races (in Ireland) first.”

Long Run could reappear in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby after pleasing connections in a spin over the weekend.

Owner Robert Waley-Cohen is considering taking in the November 2 feature before tackling the Betfair Chase at Haydock three weeks later – a race the eight-year-old has finished second in twice before.

Waley-Cohen tweeted: “Long Run well forward and did good work on grass Sat. Contemplating running first at Wetherby in Charlie Hall before going to Haydock.”

Should Long Run go to Wetherby, he could clash with former top novice Unioniste. The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old has been successful on three of his five starts over fences since moving to Ditcheat from France and was last seen finishing fourth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Nicholls, three times a winner of the Charlie Hall with Silviniaco Conti in 2012 and See More Business (1999 and 2000), said: “He has done very well over the summer and is in good shape.

“He had done plenty last season, having run through the summer in France, and was probably a bit over the top in the RSA.

“He is year older and wiser now and we are very happy with him, but he has got to step up on what he has accomplished so far.”

Nicholls also plans to send Tidal Bay to Wetherby to defend his crown in the £36,500 Grade Two bet365 Hurdle over three miles and a furlong.

The 12-year-old scored impressively last year and went on to land a top-class renewal of the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in late December. He has not been seen since due to a stress fracture of the lower cannon bone on his right hind leg.

Meanwhile, Imperial Commander could be a surprise package for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on November 30.

The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero has been back in training for the last two months and connections are eyeing either the Betfair Chase at Haydock, which he won three years ago, or the big handicap chase at the Berkshire venue for his return.

The 12-year-old was sidelined with injury for nearly two years before a storming run back at Prestbury Park in January when he was second to Cape Tribulation in the Argento Chase.

He missed the Gold Cup itself with an infection and instead appeared in the Grand National, running prominently for some way before weakening and being pulled up at Becher’s Brook second time around.

“He’s been back in for a couple of months. It’s all going smoothly so far,” trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies’ assistant Carl Llewellyn told At The Races.

“We got him back earlier this year than we’ve had in previous years. We’re looking forward to running him.

“There’s Haydock or maybe the Hennessy. There’s talk about the Hennessy because his handicap mark has dropped now. He’s on 153, so he might go there.”

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