Meain machineset to return over jumps at Punchestown

Inis Meain will return over jumps at the Punchestown Festival following his impressive Flat victory at the Curragh on Sunday.

The Denis Hogan-trained seven-year-old was looking to go one better than 12 months ago in the Listed Alleged Stakes and did so with the minimum of fuss, making every yard of the running in the hands of Danny Mullins.

Owner Barry Connell said: “He’s a great little horse and I would say that was his best run ever on Sunday.

“He was obviously fit from his hurdling campaign, but he won quite comprehensively and I think he’ll go to Punchestown now for a three-mile handicap hurdle.

“We’ll probably give him a break after that and look to bring him back later in the year when he can mix the Flat and jumps. If he can go up a few pounds over hurdles, hopefully he’ll be able to run in some of the better staying handicaps.

“He just missed out in the Pertemps Final in Cheltenham this year, so hopefully he might get in it next season.”

Inis Meain is one of a number of horses Connell has pencilled in for Ireland’s biggest National Hunt Festival later this month, but he has warned some may not run unless there is some ease underfoot.

“A lot depends on the ground. The ground is drying up quite rapidly at the moment and there is no rain forecast for the next week or so,” said the owner. “We probably won’t run any of our better winter horses (at Punchestown) unless we get some rain.

“Foxrock is entered in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse this weekend, but he won’t run in that.

“He is entered in the Irish Grand National and also at Punchestown, but he won’t run anywhere unless there’s some ease in the ground.

“Champagne James won’t run again this season, but Double Irish could go to Punchestown for a winners-of-one race.”

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