Hurricane on course for Champion

Hurricane Fly is likely to have a stablemate or two for company in the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Hurricane on course for Champion

Trainer Willie Mullins reports the remarkable 11-year-old to be on course to try to win this race for a fifth successive season and register win number 22 at Grade One level.

Of four entries in the race, Mullins has all but ruled out Faugheen taking his chance but Arctic Fire and Diakali are still in the frame.

“I imagine Arctic Fire will come. I doubt Faugheen will come, but we’ll see,” the County Carlow handler told At the Races.

“Three of them are being worked before the race and we’ll see what happens by the middle of the week,” Mullins said.

“Hurricane Fly appears to be in good order at home so hopefully we’ll be here with him.

“I don’t think I need to run Faugheen again before Cheltenham. I’m happy enough with him at home.”

Mullins believes it is time Un De Sceaux had the opportunity to show how good he is in Grade One company.

He has admitted he kept Un De Sceaux away from top opposition over hurdles but is keen for the talented seven-year-old to take on the best over fences.

The only blot on Un De Sceaux’s copybook in nine starts over jumps so far is when he fell on his fencing debut in Thurles in November.

The French import made amends at Fairyhouse last month and is set to go for the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.

As a precaution against the weather, Mullins has given him an entry in the Grade Two Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

“The plan is to come to Leopardstown. He’s in there, he’s in Doncaster. I just stuck him in because there are so few two-mile races just in case the weather acts up here or there so we just have a choice,” Mullins said.

“We’ve been avoiding the issue with Un De Sceaux and going round the place in his hurdling career, but now we going to let him run in Grade One races to see what happens.”

Un De Sceaux is favourite at a top-priced 9-4 for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.

Meanwhile mares-only races could be the route for Katie T after she gave her owners a big pay day with victory in the BoyleSports Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Connections of the six-year-old, trained by Kevin Prendergast, have to mull over the options and there are several Festivals in Ireland to consider.

Katie T had already shown a decent level of form before the weekend, having finished third to Annie Power in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in May and winning a Grade Three contest at Limerick last March. However, a trip to Cheltenham may not be on the agenda.

“She did it well and she’s fine today. No problems, She came home good and ate everything we gave her, so we’re happy with her,” said Prendergast.

“I’ve not spoken to the partners who own her and we won’t make a decision for a few days on what we are doing. There are plenty of options for mares now where we can go.

“As for Cheltenham, she might not be the best traveller in the world. She’s only six and she was only broken less than two years ago so she’s got time on her side.

“The prize money is quite good for mares so we will follow that route.”

Medermit is now clear top weight for the Skybet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday following the five-day confirmation stage.

Alan King’s 11-year-old was on 11st 12lb along with Hey Big Spender but that horse has been taken out after running at Haydock last weekend.

Medermit has been highly-tried this term, finishing fourth in the Charlie Hall Chase, sixth in the Betfair Chase and second to Sam Winner at Aintree last time.

King has also left in Godsmejudge in the three-mile handicap, formerly known as the Great Yorkshire Chase, for which 22 horses remain.

Jamie Snowden has left in his smart prospect Present View, who was last seen finishing third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November.

Philip Hobbs has two interesting possibles in the hat-trick seeking Royal Player and If In Doubt, who opened his fencing account at Catterick last month.

Charlie Longsdon could send Grandads Horse back to Town Moor after his course and distance win last month. Keith Reveley’s dual course winner Night In Milan may renew rivalry. Venetia Williams’ Renard and Malcolm Jefferson’s Attaglance are among other old favourites

Paul Nicholls is double-handed with Easter Day and Cowards Close while Nicky Henderson has last year’s bet365 Gold Cup winner Hadrian’s Approach.

The Stuart Crawford-trained pair of Yes Tom and Glenquest represent interests from across the Irish Sea.

Though temperatures are set to plummet for the next couple of days, the weather forecast for the end of the week is more favourable, leaving officials optimistic about prospects for the meeting.

“We would have raced today. We have significant frosts forecast for the next two nights, but it is forecast to start improving from Thursday,” said clerk of the course Roderick Duncan.

“We have a decent forecast for Friday with possible showers and a positive forecast for Saturday. We are covering vulnerable areas. We are quite optimistic about Saturday.”

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