For sale: Festival winner - starts slowly, finishes fast
Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero Labaik is up for sale and will to go under the hammer at the Goffs UK Aintree Sale next Thursday.
The previously recalcitrant grey put his best foot forward under teenager Jack Kennedy to run out a smart winner of the Cheltenham Festival opener and will now be offered at the inaugural sale at Aintree, which takes place in the winner's enclosure after racing on the opening day of the Grand National meeting.
Labaik is part-owned by bloodstock agent Aidan O'Ryan, who said: "He's going to the sale in Aintree. The partner who I own the horse with wants to put him up for sale. We're dissolving the partnership. He's entered in a race at Fairyhouse this weekend, but won't run. We'll have to see what happens next week."
Having refused to race twice in succession on the Flat, Gordon Elliott's charge looked to have been reformed by a switch to the jumping game when scoring in impressive style at Punchestown and Navan in the autumn. However, his old problems resurfaced as he failed to jump off in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse and the Navan Novice Hurdle in December and his career looked all but over after he trailed home 100 lengths behind the winner at Naas last month.
But Elliott has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds the six-year-old and he showed his class at Prestbury Park, beating joint-favourite Melon by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
The Cullentra handler got confirmation yesterday of the weights his three entries are set to carry in tomorrow week's Topham Chase: Clarcam (11st 4lb), A Toi Phil (11st 3lb) or Definite Ruby (9st 10lb).
The Willie Mullins duo of Ballycasey and Alelchi Inois head the weights for the traditional Friday feature, in which he was last successful with Time For A Win in 2002, although Alelchi Inois is thought more likely to wait for the National 24 hours later. The champion trainer could also field Haymount (10st 13lb) and The Crafty Butcher (10st 4lb).
One Irish challenger confirmed is Philip Dempsey's Mr Diablo, a winner at Leopardstown last time out
"It was a good performance to win off top-weight at Leopardstown and he schooled over the National-style fences at the Curragh last Friday, which went well," said Dempsey who is unsure if his charge will wear a tongue tie.
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