Willie Mullins has raised the possibility of running two of his stable stars in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle on Thursday week.
Ireland’s champion trainer intends to enter Champion Hurdle one-two-three Faugheen, Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One, along with the brilliant mare Annie Power, who suffered a heartbreaking final flight fall at the Cheltenham Festival.
Mullins intends to send a strong team to the Merseyside track, with Champagne Fever a likely candidate for the Melling Chase after missing out on a run at Cheltenham when he suffered a bite from a stable companion in transit.
“I will have a bigger team than normal. The mare (Babylone Des Motte) that won the bumper at Sandown will go for the mares’ bumper,” said the Closutton handler. We’ll enter four in the Aintree Hurdle — Faugheen, Arctic Fire, Hurricane Fly and Annie Power —and we may run two.
“Champagne Fever will go for the Melling, Boston Bob might go for that or he could for the Bowl. On His Own could go for the Bowl as well.
“Ballycasey looks like our only runner in the National, and I’ll have to see about the novice chases and hurdles.”
Flemenstar meanwhile will head to the Punchestown Festival after pleasing connections on his return to action at Navan on Saturday.
The three-time Grade One-winning chaser made his first start since November 2013 in last weekend’s Webster Cup and travelled and jumped with plenty of his old zest before faltering in the home straight, passing the post in sixth place.
Owner Stephen Curran expects his 10-year-old to improve considerably for the run and is looking forward to seeing him in action at Punchestown.
Curran said: “We were very happy with him. He jumped brilliant and travelled well and he just got very tired.
“He’d been off the track for 16 months, so I don’t think you could fault him really. He’s come home safe and sound and seems in great order.
“We’ll go on to Punchestown now. I don’t know which race he’ll run in. It will either be two miles or three miles.”
Trainer Jim Dreaper believes Los Amigos has a “real chance” of victory in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Easter Monday.
The Dreaper name is synonymous with the Easter Monday highlight, with Jim’s legendary father Tom saddling a record 10 winners of the race, including Fortria (1961), Arkle (1964) and Flyingbolt (1966).
Los Amigos has made just one appearance this season, winning at Fairyhouse at the end of January, and his trainer does not expect a step up to a marathon distance of over three and a half miles to be a problem.
Dreaper said: “On Los Amigos’ best form he has a real chance.
“We don’t know about the extra distance. He’s never tried it before, but he got three miles fine and we’re hopeful everything will be OK.
“He’s fresh and seems well and that should stand to him.
“He’s had an easy season while some of the others have been busy.”
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