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Mullins: Sports looking smart for Arkle

Willie Mullins is considering whether to give his smart novice chaser Sports Line another run prior to a tilt at the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.

The seven-year-old was impressive on his fencing introduction at Navan in November and was far from disgraced under Ruby Walsh in finishing second to An Cathaoir Mor in last weekend's Irish Arkle at Leopardstown.

"He is a very difficult ride, and Ruby got him settled in the early part of the race before making the decision to kick on three-out," Mullins told his weekly diary on www.hri.ie.

"In hindsight maybe Ruby could have waited a bit longer, but in kicking on he gave the horse valuable experience.

"For a horse having just its second run over fences it was a huge effort, so I was more than pleased. Sports Line is still on course for the Arkle at Cheltenham, though he might run beforehand for a bit more experience if there is a suitable race for him."

Sports Line is a best-price 16/1 with William Hill for the Arkle.

Nicky Henderson has firmed up the latest running plans for his two star novice chasers, Punchestowns and Long Run.

The pair are right at the top of the betting for the RSA Chase, and Long Run could not have been more impressive than in his British debut in the Feltham at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

Punchestowns, last year's Ladbrokes World Hurdle runner-up, has only made one appearance over fences, scoring easily at Newbury in November. "We had a long chat about Long Run. He's not a slow horse and he is likely to go for the Kingmaker at Warwick," said Henderson.

"Punchestowns will now go to Sandown for the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase."

John Quinn believes he may have a potential Triumph Hurdle contender on his hands after Blue Nymph made a sprightly hurdling debut at Doncaster.

The four-year-old filly brought to the table a priceless combination of class and spirit to firstly subdue Master Fong with a sound jump at the last flight in the Bill Egginton Juvenile Novices' Hurdle.

Dougie Costello's mount then stuck to the matter in hand to keep at bay the onrushing Barwell Bridge, the 10/11 favourite, by two lengths.

"It's always difficult to win first time out but she buckled down really well," said North Yorkshire-based Quinn of the 7/1 chance.

"We'll put her in the Musselburgh race (Scottish Triumph Hurdle in February) but the track might be a bit tight for her.

"We'll stick her in the Triumph and she's also eligible to run in the Fred Winter after two more runs.

"She ideally wants a galloping track and a nice bit of drying ground."

Runner-up Presenting Forever is held in some esteem by Howard Johnson, but was humbly ground into submission by the 8/1 winner.

Jessica Harrington's Bostons Angel (6/1) emerged one of the day's easiest winners in the finale to vindicate the journey across the Irish Sea.


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