| 18.5°C Dublin

Meade eyes Dubh return win


Noel Meade expects Leopardstown winner Realt Dubh to put up another bold show when he returns to the track for tomorrow's Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase.

The seven-year-old beat off a field that included Mikael D'Haguenet when winning the Bord na Mona With Nature Novice Chase over the course and distance last month.

"He's in good form and I've been happy with him since Leopardstown," said Meade. "He worked the other day and I was pleased with him. He certainly handled the drop in trip well over Christmas and he should run well again."

Willie Mullins saddles Flat Out and is keen to see how he gets on at a higher level before making plans for the spring festivals. "He seems ready to run and seems in good form," said the champion trainer.

"This is a step up for him and will tell us more about where he's going."

Noble Prince chased home Realt Dubh over Christmas but his trainer Paul Nolan is hoping conditions may be more in his favour this weekend.

"He'd have an each-way shout. We were going to step him up in trip but we've decided to stick to two miles for the time being," said Nolan.

Sunday's showpiece Leopardstown fixture is set to go ahead as planned.

Frost had been a concern at the Dublin venue following an inspection of conditions on Thursday.

However, a statement issued yesterday afternoon read: "Following a rise in temperatures throughout this morning and afternoon, there is no longer any frost in the ground at Leopardstown.

"With current weather forecasts predicting a further rise in temperatures tomorrow and again on Sunday, no problems are anticipated with regards to the staging of Sunday's meeting featuring the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle and the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase."

Kim Bailey has his fingers crossed that Sarde will make the cut in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday week.

The seven-year-old has a handy weight of 10st 3lb in the valuable three-mile handicap chase but needs a mass exodus of horses above him to get him in the 22-runner field.

"The plan at the moment is to go there if he gets in, but he's a long way down the handicap and would need a lot to come out before he gets in," said the Gloucestershire trainer.

Robbie Hennessy is looking to introduce a couple of potentially smart recruits to the National Hunt sphere within the next week.

Ithinkbest acted as a lead horse to Derby and Arc winner Workforce for Michael Stoute last season, while Table Mountain won twice on the level for Aidan O'Brien before being snapped up by Hennessy and he could soon run in a juvenile hurdle.