DAVY Russell believes the likely testing conditions will play to the strengths of Money Trix in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Russell rode the horse for the first time in the Lexus Chase over course and distance in December, where Nicky Richards’ grey put up a career-best effort to finish a close second behind What A Friend.
He faces many of the same rivals in Sunday’s Grade One contest and Russell is hoping a similar performance will see his mount go one place better.
“He ran a blinder in the Lexus and it’s going to be another tough race on Sunday,” said Russell.
“There has been plenty of rain and I suppose with him the softer conditions the better as we know he stays well and he’s not a speedy horse by any means.
“We got on well together the last day and I don’t think we’ll do a whole lot different – the challenge is to get on as well again.
“Obviously we finished ahead of Joncol and one or two others the last day an hopefully we can again, but you never know what can happen on a different day.
“As long as Nicky is happy with him I’m happy and we’ll see what happens.”
Richards is indeed happy with his charge but admits the Willie Mullins-trained Cooldine could take some pegging back if returning to his RSA Chase-winning form.
He said: “Cooldine was pulled up in the Lexus and has obviously got to improve a lot.
“But, in fairness to him, that clearly wasn’t his running and if he can get back to the Cheltenham form of last year he’ll make us all go.
“Saying that, I wouldn’t swap my horse for any other in the race.
“Davy knows he stays well and I thought he gave him a beautiful ride last time.
“He said before the race how it would be run and he was pretty much spot-on and it nearly came off.
“We have two outstanding horses in these staying chases in Kauto Star and Denman, but I’d like to think our lad is as good as the rest of them.”
Cooldine needs to bounce back to form having been pulled up in the Lexus and Mullins is in the dark as to why he is the hot favourite.
“I can’t understand quite why Cooldine has been so heavily backed for the Hennessy on Sunday,” the trainer said in his weekly blog on www.goracing.ie.
“He has been backed into favouritism, and I can tell you it’s not my money!
“Money Trix and Joncol are the two to beat. They are fit and well and they are going to run right up to their marks, which is something Cooldine hasn’t done yet this season – he ran no race at all in the Lexus.
“I just want to see him perform on Sunday.”
Paul Nolan is represented by Lexus third Joncol and admits his charge has his work cut out to reverse placings with Money Trix
He said: “I don’t really understand why Money Trix is behind us in the market as he is the one to beat.
“He would probably have won in another stride in the Lexus – he beat us fair and square – so he is the one to watch.
“It’s a competitive race and we’re hopeful our horse will run well, but he will obviously have to improve again.”
Jim Dreaper’s Notre Pere needs to improve having finished fifth in the Lexus, but the trainer is pleased with his current condition.
“I think he will do better than last time, but obviously he needs to,” said Dreaper.
“We know he’ll handle the ground all right so hopefully he’ll put up a good performance and that will tell us a bit more about where we’re going with him.”
Seven runners go to post with Dessie Hughes represented by both In Compliance and Schindlers Hunt, while the Tom Mullins-trained Made In Taipan completes the field.
Meanwhile Davy Russell admits the drop in trip may not be ideal for Weapon’s Amnesty when he lines up in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase, also at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Charles Byrnes’ seven-year-old won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and opened his account over fences at Newcastle on his penultimate start.
He was beaten just a short head by Pandorama in the Grade One Knight Frank Novice Chase over three miles on his latest outing, but Russell has slight concerns about dropping back to two miles and five furlongs.
“It’s not ideal to be dropping back in trip and it’s a very competitive race,” said the jockey.
“Roberto Goldback is no back number by any means, but our fellow ran well over Christmas and we need to get more experience into him.
“He’s been a slow learner with his jumping but, touch-wood, he was very good the last day and I’m hoping for the best.”
Weapon’s Amnesty and Roberto Goldback feature in a high-class field of eight for the Grade One challenge.
The hat-trick-chasing Aranleigh and the Willie Mullins duo of Citizen Vic and Cousin Vinny catch the eye, while Zaarito is on a redemption mission after his fall at Leopardstown in January.
Oscar Looby brings to the table Grade Two-winning form for Noel Meade’s operation, with Lenabane completing the octet.
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