Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 26 February 2017

Morris left bemused by Lieutenant's ratings hike

Ashley Iveson

Trainer Mouse Morris. Photo: Brian Lawless/Sportsfile
Trainer Mouse Morris. Photo: Brian Lawless/Sportsfile

Trainer Mouse Morris feels the handicapper overreacted to First Lieutenant's fine effort in defeat in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

Rated as highly as 170 in his pomp, the 11-year-old endured a disappointing campaign last season and kicked off this term with a mark of 147.

That lower mark helped him to finish a fine third in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, but after giving leading Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Don Poli a run for his money over the Christmas period, the assessor has handed him a 13lb hike for his troubles.

"He ran a cracker, but I think he just ran up to his mark," said Morris.

"The handicapper has put us up to 160 and I think that's an overreaction. I'd love to agree with him, and then we'd have a Gold Cup horse again, but I can't.

"The winner wasn't doing a lot in front and the horses just behind us aren't Gold Cup horses. I don't think it was Gold Cup-type race.

"The horse that won the Hennessy (Smad Place) didn't run that well in the King George, so I think that's a better reflection of where we are.

"I think our horse ran to his mark in the Hennessy and again in the Lexus. I don't know where we'll go now. He'll get an entry in the Grand National and maybe the handicapper will take a different view. I hope so, anyway."

Meanwhile, Kitten Rock was found to be suffering from a minor spinal injury after his disappointing run at Naas on Sunday.

The Edward O'Grady-trained six-year-old made a smart start to his career over fences at Navan in November, but finished a disappointing and well-beaten third behind Shaneshill.

"He was lame post-race and has been diagnosed as having a small problem with his spine," said O'Grady. "He has had a procedure to hopefully rectify the issue and it will keep him out for three weeks.

"While it was a disappointing run, it was nice to find a reason for it and hopefully we have put it right now."

Irish Independent

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