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Lion back on prowl

IRISH Grand National winner Lion Na Bearnai is on course to have his first run since that famous Fairyhouse triumph when lining up in Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

Lion Na Bearnai is joined by the Gigginstown pairing of First Lieutenant and Magnanimity with Mouse Morris expected to decide tomorrow if he will run last year's RSA Chase runner-up First Lieutenant.

"We'll keep our options open until Wednesday," said the Gold Cup winning trainer.

"The top weight staying in might encourage us to go and the choice is whether to run on soft ground in England or bottomless ground in Ireland. We'll wait a couple of days and see what the lovely weather is going to do!"

Morris concluded: "By Wednesday night we'll know whether we're travelling or not."

The weights are headed by the Paul Nicholls-trained Tidal Bay as the trainer looks to claim another major win on a fifth successive Saturday and betting trends would suggest confidence from the Nicholls' camp and he is now a 9/1 shot.

Boylesports make RSA Chase winner Bobs Worth the 3/1 favourite ahead of the David Pipe-trained The Package who is 7/1.

Sunday's Troytown Chase winning trainer Dessie Hughes will send over Magnanimity, who is a 16/1 chance.

Hughes said: "Hopefully he'll run, unless the ground is too deep. I hear they are expecting a dry week after today, so by Saturday it might have dried out a bit."

Should either First Lieutenant or Magnanimity make the journey across it is likely that Davy Russell will be onboard as he looks to continue his sparkling run of form.

Russell enjoyed a treble at Navan on Sunday before going to Kempton yesterday to successfully guide the Charles Byrnes-trained Knockfierna in the listed OLBG Mares Hurdle.

Knockfierna was sent off an 11/4 shot and Byrnes revealed he may send the nine-time winner back to Kempton over the Christmas period.

The Limerick trainer is the only Irish trainer represented in Saturday's Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle where just six entries were received.

Byrnes has entered Trifolium in a race which is set to be the starting point for Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby who will have his first official start for trainer Harry Fry, while Darlan and Cinders And Ashes could also oppose.

There was also some good news from the Byrnes camp as he confirmed that former Cheltenham Festival winner Weapons Amnesty remains on course to make his long awaited return in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.


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