O'Grady pleads caution over Catch Me's Cheltenham run
Edward O'Grady is hopeful rather than confident that Catch Me can emulate Tranquil Sea by winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The Tipperary trainer sent out Tranquil Sea to become the first Irish-trained winner of the valuable handicap chase for 29 years last November. Catch Me warmed up for the race with a third behind Captain Cee Bee in the Poplar Square Chase at Naas, which Tranquil Sea won before winning at Cheltenham.
"Catch Me came out of Naas well and we're happy with him, but I thought that the race was uncompetitive and inconclusive," said O'Grady. "It was uncompetitive in that there were only four runners and it just wasn't anything as good as last year. The winner is very decent -- it was just the way that the race was run.
"Catch Me has been a great servant who has suffered a few misfortunes, but I feel that he has retained his ability and I am hoping to see it on Saturday. At this stage of his career, he is probably a similar type to Tranquil Sea, but it was difficult to be confident after the trial. I think that we have to be no more than hopeful rather than confident."
Nicky Henderson runs Long Run and Mad Max, with the former having had showjumping lessons dished out to him by jumping guru Yogi Breisner.
"Everything has gone well," said Henderson. "We've been trying to get some shape into his technique. He's always been a good jumper but, because of the nature of the obstacles in France, you have to teach them to go over fences, rather than through them."
Mad Max -- Henderson's giant, bold jumping youngster -- tackles a stiff two mile, five furlongs for the first time but the trainer is unperturbed. "He has a strong staying pedigree," said Henderson, "so I'm not worried about the trip."
At Bangor yesterday, conditional rider Chris Timmins was clear on the run-in on Jeanry when he mistook the green half-furlong marker for the winning post, dropping his hands.
When Monsieur, which had been struggling behind him, came past for an unlikely victory, he was unable to get going again. The stewards slapped a 28-day ban on Timmins.
At Huntingdon, Medermit's ambitions of reaching the top of the novice chasing division suffered a major setback when the grey refused on his second start over fences. In the Tom Jones Memorial Novices' Chase, the ante-post favourite for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy ground to a halt at fence six, just as he was warming to his task in front.
As if that was not enough, Harry Tricker was awarded the race by the stewards when severely hampered by Sergeant Pink on the run-in.
Medermit, one of England's leading two-mile hurdlers last season, was sent off at 1/5 for the four-runner event after a satisfactory chasing debut at Aintree last month, and is one of the primary hopes of trainer Alan King. "It's back to the drawing board, and he won't make the running again," said the trainer.
Master Minded may take on Forpadydeplasterer and company at Cheltenham on Sunday. Connections of the dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero have yet to decide whether to give the seven-year-old his seasonal debut this weekend or wait for the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot the following Saturday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)