'No doubt' Newmill will defend crown

John Murphy has moved to reassure punters reigning Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Newmill’s entry in the Champion Hurdle is just a precaution.

John Murphy has moved to reassure punters reigning Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Newmill’s entry in the Champion Hurdle is just a precaution.

The nine-year-old slammed Macs Joy by nine lengths in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran, but Murphy insists his stable star will be defending his two-mile Champion Chase crown, unless the ground is bottomless.

“He is going for the Champion Chase unless the ground came up very, very heavy - hopefully it will not be heavy,” said Murphy.

“He’s going for the Champion Chase though, there is no doubt.

“He’s very good at the moment. I’ve just seen him this morning and he looks very well.

“He was quiet earlier in the season because we’ve had a very bad three months in Ireland with very heavy ground and I don’t want to give him gruelling races as he doesn’t like it.

“He can go on soft or good to soft, but he is way better on better ground, and he’s better in the spring.

“Contrary to what a lot of people said when he ran at Leopardstown (in the Tied Cottage Chase), Andrew McNamara said he was absolutely cruising, he wasn’t getting tired when he fell, he just ran into the bottom of it and tipped up,” he told At The Races.

“I think he was running a big race that day and I was pleased he got up and walked away. He was also very good when he beat Macs Joy in the Red Mills.

“Hopefully he gets there in one piece, but I would say to those that have backed him for the Queen Mother, don’t worry.”

Newmill is 7-2 second-favourite for the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase behind 7-4 favourite Well Chief.

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