| 11.1°C Dublin

Native set for Leopardstown

Go Native, the current leading Champion Hurdle contender who stands to earn connections a £1m bonus if he lands the opening day feature at next month's Cheltenham Festival, is set to be among the hoards of after-racing gallopers that regularly descend on Leopardstown ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Leopardstown meeting, which will take place on Sunday week, is a regular haunt for trainers giving their Cheltenham contingent a final racecourse gallop ahead of the Festival, and Meade revealed yesterday that he would head to the Foxrock venue rather than his local track at Navan for the final bit of serious work.

"We will probably take him away to Leopardstown rather than Navan to work as the ground will be better for him there. We worked Harchibald at Navan 10 days before he ran in the Champion Hurdle and he ended up pulling himself up on heavy ground," Meade admitted.

Go Native stands to win a £1m bonus put up by betting exchange website WBX.com having already triumphed in the first two legs, the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, and last year's Supreme Novices Hurdle winner has been freshened up after his latest Grade One success.

"We stopped with him after Christmas and didn't train him through January. He was hacking every day but didn't do any fast work as we slowed him right down. We have started quickening him up again now and we now need to get him to Cheltenham in good form."


Go Native provided Meade with his third Cheltenham Festival winner ever when landing the opening race of the week under Paul Carberry last year, and, although winning on that occasion, Meade admits there would be a slight change of tactics this season.

"Paul murdered them turning in and Medermit got close but we were in front too long. If we get there in the same form this year we'll hold onto him longer and the quicker they go, the better it will be for him. Having got to this stage we just want to get there now and hope he travels well again."

Meade's other live Cheltenham hope is Pandorama, who remains unbeaten as a novice chaser, and while the trainer would appreciate good ground for Go Native, he yesterday admitted that a quick surface would hinder the chances of the seven-year-old maintaining his 100pc record over the larger obstacles.

"He is a very good horse and has only been beaten once, and that was by Mikael D'Haguenet. I wasn't happy with him before he ran at Christmas; I took him to work at Dundalk and he didn't work too well, but I put that down to Dundalk," said Meade.

"He didn't travel like he can during the race at Leopardstown but I am very happy with him now. We gave him a break after Christmas and have been building him up since then. He has done well and we gave him an easy time last year with this season in mind."

Meade concluded: "The only negative would be if the ground was really good as he likes an ease."