Shoe on other foot for Cossack's farrier Cromwell
Gavin Cromwell opted to skip Cheltenham with his stable star Jer's Girl and is instead likely to let her tackle the big guns on home soil at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
A farrier by trade, the Meath handler shoes Gordon Elliott's elite team. Prior to last week's Cheltenham Festival, he joked that Don Cossack was the highest-rated chaser that AP McCoy rode during his stellar career, so he would be unlikely to shoe a better one.
The veracity of that conclusion holds even truer in light of last Friday's Gold Cup. Earlier in the season, Jer's Girl had threatened to take Cromwell to heady heights in his guise as a trainer.
A home-bred filly, she won her first two hurdle starts at Limerick and Aintree, before getting chinned by Apple's Jade in a Leopardstown Grade Two. She then disappointed up in class, but, in Sunday's mares' novices' hurdle, she has the opportunity to compete in a Grade One against her own sex, her form having been franked by Apple Jade's gallant Triumph Hurdle second.
"We've yet to make a final decision, but at the moment we're leaning towards the race on Sunday," Cromwell said of Jer's Girl's target.
"She's not going to be a novice for much longer and it looks a good opportunity for her to win a Grade One. We could wait until Aintree or Punchestown, but this looks the easier option."
As ever, Willie Mullins will spearhead the opposition in the €100,000 affair, with Myska among his four entries. Elliott has three of the 12 potential starters and last year's winning handler Harry Fry is expected to send over Jessber's Dream. Fethard Player, meanwhile, is one that did venture to Cheltenham for Willie Treacy, a similarly small-scale operator to Cromwell. The Fethard-based handler came within a couple of lengths of Cotswold glory when his nine-year-old finished second in the County Hurdle.
Also second at Aintree last year before being disqualified after testing positive for a prohibited substance, Fethard Player could return to Liverpool for another stab at the same event.
"He is grand, there is not a bother on him," Treacy said in relation to his charge's Prestbury Park exertions.
"We were over the moon with him and we were hoping he'd run well - we were kind of throwing him in at the deep end. The Aintree race would be the obvious race to go for, if things work out. There will be a couple of options for him at Punchestown, too, and we will look there as well."
Partially available for Aintree will be Nina Carberry and Sam Waley-Cohen, who have fine records over the Grand National fences.
Waley-Cohen received a controversial seven-day ban for failing to ride 11-year-old former Gold Cup hero Long Run out to the line on its first run for two years at Kelso last Sunday. His appeal failed yesterday, but it then emerged that a loophole in the rules means that he can ride on National day, after Fethard Player's hurdle race, which is for amateur and conditional jockeys, was deemed not to be "confined to amateurs".
Carberry received her seven-day ban for breaking the whip rules in winning the Foxhunter aboard On The Fringe. She remains unavailable to ride Enda Bolger's horse at Aintree on Thursday week, but both jockeys can now ride on the Saturday and in the Grand National, should they pick up mounts.
At the Turf Club, Conor Brassil - who had received a contentious four-day ban for failing to obtain the best possible result when his mount Troll D'Oudairies was beaten a head by easy winner Colms Dream at Downpatrick on St Patrick's Day - had that decision overturned on appeal.