Wednesday 18 January 2017

Morris left bemused by Lieutenant's ratings hike

Ashley Iveson

Published 05/01/2016 | 02:30

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.

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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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