Power to take reins for Marina's Hennessy bid
Glencove Marina will have a new pilot when Eoin Griffin's charge returns to Leopardstown on Saturday for the Hennessy Gold Cup, with Robert Power taking over the reins from Barry Geraghty who will be competing at Newbury for Nicky Henderson.
"He ran well -- though a bit free -- when fourth to Pandorama in the Lexus Chase after Christmas, but we plan to be less adventurous with him this weekend in the hope he can finish better and earn some place money at least," the south Kilkenny trainer explained.
The Spectrum gelding, which won most recently at Thurles in November under Geraghty, faded late on into fourth, just 10 lengths off Pandorama, in that Lexus promotion and his current rating of 155, in Griffin's words, means "he's well entitled to take his chance."
Interestingly, young English trainer Nick Mitchell believes The Listener could be the forgotten horse heading into Saturday's rearranged showdown.
The bold-jumping grey has won four Grade Ones -- two of those at Leopardstown, including the 2008 renewal of this prestigious race.
He showed in the Lexus Chase that the old exuberance was still there, despite being a 12-year-old and after over a year off, and the soft ground he will encounter this weekend will be no worry to him.
"He has come out of the Lexus very well and the main objective was to get a race into him and to come back with his leg as clean as a whistle and it has been -- touch wood," said Mitchell.
"He hasn't missed a beat and it has been behaving itself and we will kick on. He had a very common tendon stress on his foreleg and we managed to get it very early before it got seriously bad.
"He has had stem cell surgery and he has come back from this sort of injury quite quickly with a view to his age and, being 12 now, it has worked fine. If the opposition is similar to last Saturday, without Pride Of Dulcote, I have a lot of faith in him, he is a bit of a forgotten horse."
Meanwhile, the action on the home front today is at Thurles where the ground will be testing after heavy showers as the Willie Mullins bandwagon rolls on, this time with the recently placed pair Killultagh Queen and French import Shifa carrying the flag.
The opening mares novice chase would seem the ideal opportunity for Killultagh Queen to improve on her good effort at Fairyhouse when just edged out after a keen duel with Montan, suggesting she can get the better of Bobs Display and Back Me Up here.
An hour later it's the turn of noted French breeder Alain Couetil's Lost World mare Shifa and Patrick Mullins to bid for swift compensation in the Holy Cross Maiden Hurdle after failing to justify favouritism over this route a fortnight ago behind Ruler Of All.
The addition of a first-time tongue strap may work the oracle for this five-year-old, which faces stiff opposition from Four Commanders and Bobowen.
Stable companion Lambro might then have to give best to Michael Hourigan's more exposed nap selection, Crash, in the Cashel Maiden Hurdle as the latter takes a drop in class after earning third money at Naas behind Old McDonald and Jetson.
Gordon Elliott's Bold Optimist, as short as 10/1 for the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
The five-year-old sprang to prominence after a smooth debut success in a typically hot Leopardstown bumper at Christmas. His campaign had been built around a trip to Prestbury Park but Elliott confirmed the next time he would be seen would be over hurdles.
"He had a little setback and he will not be ready for Cheltenham," said Elliott. "He'll be back early next season and is a horse to look forward to going hurdling. We have a nice team going over and hopefully we can have a winner."