Flyer ready for festival

Moscow Flyer is on course to defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase title after pleasing connections in a schooling session after racing at Leopardstown.

Moscow Flyer is on course to defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase title after pleasing connections in a schooling session after racing at Leopardstown.

Jessica Harrington’s 12-year-old has been beaten in both his starts this season but he is due to try for a third win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday week after putting in a clear round over four fences.

Regular pilot Barry Geraghty was aboard as he worked with stablemate Strike Back, finishing upsides and satisfying Harrington in the process.

She said: “I am happy with that. He goes to Cheltenham with every chance.”

Dual Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace is also set for the Festival after advertising his wellbeing in a strong gallop.

The nine-year-old disappointed in the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle on his last start in January but trainer Dessie Hughes was pleased enough with the piece of work.

“He quickened up nicely and that’s what I wanted to see,” said the trainer.

Hughes’ Weatherbys Champion Bumper possible First Author worked well with his hat-trick seeking stablemate, prompting Cashmans to cut him to 20-1 from 33-1 before slashing him again to 14-1 after strong support.

Willie Mullins was giving little away about the pecking order of his Bumper hopes after working Ballytrim, Equus Maximus, Irish Invader and Shady Willow together.

The quartet worked over the best part of a circuit with handicapper Adamant Approach and despite Ruby Walsh getting the leg up on Ballytrim, Mullins would not say which is the stable first string.

He said: “I was happy with them all. Equus Maximus and Shady Willow both settled well and came with good runs while Irish Invader missed the kick otherwise he would have been closer.

“I’m giving nothing away as to which horse is my favourite for the race but obviously Ballytrim pleased me very much in particular.”

Mullins also worked last year’s John Smith’s Grand National winner and Gold Cup hope Hedgehunter along with leading Royal & SunAlliance Chase contender Our Ben.

The pair were part of a five-strong party, along with Davenport Democrat, Euro Leader and Bothar Na, who completed nearly a circuit of the track over fences.

“I was delighted with all of them and Mick Fitzgerald, who rode Hedgehunter, said he was particularly pleased,” said the Co Carlow handler.

“I will go for one of the handicaps with Davenport Democrat and Bothar Na may run in the Foxhunters.

“Our Ben ran a bit stuffy but he can be like that and I’m not concerned. As for Euro Leader, he is a possible for the Ryanair Chase.”

Mullins’ JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite Mister Hight also enjoyed a spin on the level under Walsh, finishing alongside his lead horse in fine style.

Asian Maze is described by her trainer Tom Mullins as “70-30” to go for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle rather than the Champion Hurdle after she pulled away from her stable companion in her gallop.

Edward O’Grady’s Sky’s The Limit is now as low as 8-1 with Coral and William Hill for the Coral Cup after putting in an eye-catching performance.

He finished well clear of stablemate and Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender O’Muircheartaigh.

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