Potts' Aintree ambitions for Notre Pere
Strabane handler Barry Potts has expressed an ambition to see his 2008 Welsh National hero Notre Pere tackle the more glamorous English equivalent in the spring.
The Pat Conway-owned 10-year-old again features among the initial entries for the Chepstow slog that he won while in the care of Jim Dreaper, but Potts' primary target for Notre Pere at the moment is the Becher Chase over the big Aintree fences tomorrow week.
Notre Pere was fifth in that race in 2010 after encountering a particularly troubled passage.
"The plan is for Notre Pere to run in the Becher Chase," Potts said. "He was jumping well in the race last year, but a couple of horses jumped into him early on and he was brought to a standstill at Becher's Brook. With a clear round, I'd be hopeful of a good run."
Potts added of the former dual Grade One winner: "He is a monster of a horse and I have always thought of him as a John Smith's Grand National contender.
"He has gone down a bit in the weights now, but would need Red Marauder conditions -- he really needs it to be soft or heavy -- to have a chance."
Paul Nolan's Joncol was the only absentee at the final declaration stage for tomorrow's Hennessy Gold Cup, as 18 stood their ground for the Newbury showpiece, including Noel Meade's Muirhead. The Munster National winner carries 10st 4lb under Paul Carberry in the three-mile handicap, and was the subject of some support yesterday.
Having been a top-priced 33/1 in the morning, he ended the day as a general 20/1 shot to deliver a first Irish success in the race since Bright Highway won for Michael O'Brien in 1980.
Meade has also suggested that he could run both of his exciting novices Il Fenomeno and Dylan Ross, first and second in a Grade Three novice hurdle at Navan recently, in the Grade One edition at Fairyhouse next weekend.
"I'd say Il Fenomeno will run in the Royal Bond," Meade said, "and Dylan Ross could go there as well, but we haven't made any definite plans."