Sunday 24 September 2017

Mitchell talks up The Listener

Keith Hamer

Nick Mitchell has his fingers crossed that The Listener can roll back the years with a big run in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The 12-year-old grey has made numerous successful forays across the Irish Sea over several seasons, winning this race in 2008 as well as the Lexus and other Grade Ones at Down Royal and Punchestown.

He made a satisfying return after 13 months out with a leg injury when fifth to Pandorama in the Lexus over this course and distance last month and has pleased his trainer in the build-up to a fourth crack at this race.

"I was very happy three years ago when he won this race, but very annoyed when Beef Or Salmon mugged him on the line the year before," Mitchell said. "He loves Leopardstown and we're looking forward to going back over there.

"Everybody was delighted with him on his comeback run. He was coming back from that leg injury, but he showed his old exuberance and, if anything, he was a little too exuberant.

"The main thing is he came back and his leg was clean. He hasn't missed a beat since and it's fingers crossed.

"For the majority of the race last time he really looked to be enjoying himself and still has that enthusiasm."

Pat Flynn, meanwhile, is confident Louisville Lip can maintain his unbeaten record over timber in the Tote Pick Six Rollover Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

Having shown ability on the level, the youngster beat a couple of well-touted hurdling debutants on his own National Hunt debut at Thurles last week.

The Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham is his major spring objective and Flynn believes his charge compares favourably with a couple of his previous Festival stars.

"He's going to run on Sunday and he's in absolutely fantastic form," said Flynn. "He's had 10 days since his last run, which is an excellent gap, and we rate this horse really highly.

"I've trained three Cheltenham Festival winners: Montelado won the Champion Bumper and the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and French Ballerina won the Supreme. This horse is coming up to their level."

Jessica Harrington believes the PJ Moriarty Novice Chase is the ideal stepping stone for her recent Grade One winner Bostons Angel.

The seven-year-old battled through the mud to land the Fort Leney Novice Chase at the track over three miles in December and, while Harrington believes the drop in trip will be a slight inconvenience, she is keen to get another run into her charge before he heads to the spring festivals.

Irish Independent

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