Leopardstown’s Christmas Hurdle on Alpha Des Obeaux’s agenda

Alpha Des Obeaux is set to return to three miles in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Leopardstown’s Christmas Hurdle on Alpha Des Obeaux’s agenda

The Mouse Morris-trained five-year-old mixed it with the best novice hurdlers around last season, filling the runner-up spot behind a trio of Willie Mullins’ big guns in Black Hercules, Douvan and Nichols Canyon, as well as falling at the final flight when in contention at Aintree.

He found only the Mullins-trained Champion Hurdle runner-up Arctic Fire too strong in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month and is now bound for Leopardstown on December 28.

“Alpha Des Obeaux ran well in the Hatton’s Grace and will stay over hurdles this season. He will go for the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and is crying out for three miles,” said Morris.

The Fethard-based trainer also provided an update on First Lieutenant, who ran so well to finish third in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

The 10-year-old has the Paddy Power Chase as an option over the Festive period and Morris already has one eye on a second tilt at the Grand National in the spring.

He said: “I was delighted with First Lieutenant’s run in the Hennessy and he’s come out of the race well. As he gets older he seems to be handling soft ground better.

“I don’t know where he will go next but looking ahead he’ll get an entry in the Grand National again.

“He’s off a rating of 147 at the moment and we could look at one of the National trials.”

Meanwhile Reve De Sivola is on course to bid for a record-equalling fourth consecutive victory in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

The Nick Williams-trained stayer will try to emulate the tally of Baracouda in the Grade One over an extended three miles, with Francois Doumen’s star having been successful in 2000-1 and 2003-4.

Reve De Sivola, who equalled the three Long Walk wins of Big Buck’s last Christmas, had his first run since March when sixth to Thousand Stars at Auteuil last month.

The Willie Mullins-trained grey is also among nine horses standing their ground at the confirmation stage. Gordon Elliott’s Taglietelle is a second Irish possible.

Three of the five runners from Newbury’s Long Distance remain in the mix. They are headed by the Colin Tizzard-trained winner Thistlecrack, with runner-up Deputy Dan from Oliver Sherwood’s yard and fourth-home the John Ferguson-trained Aqalim in the list.

Paul Nicholls’ Saphir Du Rheu, runner-up in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle last spring, looks like reverting to the smaller obstacles after finishing fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup off top weight.

Another entry who has been running mainly over the bigger obstacles is Dynaste, who was third to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.

Alan King’s Karezak, second on his debut over fences on his latest start, completes the list.

Sign Of A Victory heads 31 possibles for the Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday following the five-day confirmation stage.

Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old, a facile winner on the Flat at Wolverhampton recently, has been left with top weight after the defection of Old Guard.

Henderson is also represented by the lightly-raced Altior, who has won his last three starts including over this course and distance.

Gordon Elliott, successful with Bayan 12 months ago, can choose from Diamond King, Hostile Fire and Vercingetorix.

Other Irish possibles are Eddie Hardy’s Sort It Out, the Noel Meade-trained Waxies Dargyle and two from Willie Mullins’ stable, Renneti and Noble Inn.

Alan King’s Winner Massagot is 5-1 favourite with the sponsors while the firm report plenty of support for second best, the Harry Fry-trained Jolly’s Cracked It, who is now a 6-1 chance from 7-1.

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