BRAVE Inca bids to chalk up the 11th Grade One triumph of an illustrious career when he steps up to three miles for the Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at Punchestown today.
The 11-year-old has never won beyond two and a half miles but his trainer Colm Murphy has every confidence in the gelding, who has captured Champion Hurdles in England and Ireland.
Brave Inca was sixth to Refinement on his only previous attempt at this distance two years ago but Murphy is convinced stamina will not be a problem for the 2006 Champion Hurdle winner.
“He went over two and a half in the Hatton’s Grace on his first run back this year and I don’t think the trip is an issue at all,” said the County Wexford handler.
Brave Inca runs in the longer race rather than in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle over two miles on Friday which he won four years ago.
“He was also in the two-miler on Friday, and he might have gone for that had the ground been very, very soft,” Murphy went on.
“It doesn’t look like being like that, so we are going to let him take his chance tomorrow.
“I’m very happy with him and hoping for a really good run.”
Ruby Walsh believes Fiveforthree, 6-4 favourite with the sponsors, has a good chance on breeding of seeing out the distance.
The Willie Mullins-trained grey is upped in trip after being touched off by Solwhit in the Aintree Hurdle earlier this month.
“He won the Ballymore Properties Hurdle last year over two miles, five furlongs and he was second at Aintree over two and a half miles last time,” Walsh told At The Races.
“Obviously it’s his first try at the trip but he is a half-brother to Celestial Gold, who won a Hennessy, so he is bred to get the trip and is in very good form.”
There are no stamina doubts for Whatuthink, who had a confidence-building victory on the Flat at Tipperary three weeks ago after finishing sixth to Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham.
“He’s in great form at home. He’s come back from Tipperary very bullish after winning,” said McKiernan’s assistant Adrian Keatley.
“He’s turning the corner as we feel he’s got his confidence back after winning on the Flat.
“We’re delighted to see the rain come. He just seems to prefer softer conditions and I don’t think he’s in love with Cheltenham.
“We feel things will be in our favour a bit more tomorrow.”
Philip Hobbs is worried the going is likely to be too soft for Fair Along, who was only ninth in the Cheltenham feature but fared much better when third also to Big Buck’s in the Liverpool Hurdle.
“He ran well at Aintree, but I think the ground will have probably gone against him. To sum it up though he has an each-way chance,” said the Minehead trainer.
Aintree fifth Duc De Regniere aims to put that slightly disappointing display behind him.
The hopes of the Nicky Henderson stable rest with the Newbury Long Distance hurdle winner after Punchestowns was ruled out due to a late setback.
“He’s in great form. It’s a shame Punchestowns can’t be here, but at least we’ve got him,” said the Seven Barrows trainer.
“I was a bit disappointed with him at Aintree, but he’s entitled to be here and we’re going to have a go.”
Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle, sponsors bet: 6-4 Fiveforthree, 9-2 Powerstation, 6-1 Fair Along, 7-1 Nicanor, 8-1 Whatuthink, 11-1 Brave Inca, 16-1 bar.
Cashmans bet: 13/8 Fiveforthree, 7 Whatyouthink, Fair Along, 8 Brave Inca, Power Station, 10 Duc De Regniere, 12 Nicanor, Pettifour, 20 Footy Facts, 25 Shakervilz
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