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Voler ready to raise Bar

Colm Murphy believes his star mare Voler La Vedette has every chance of claiming the first Grade One prize of her career in tomorrow's Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The seven-year-old was beaten a little over three lengths by the mighty Hurricane Fly in the same contest 12 months ago, and returns to the County Meath track in every bit as good a form having bolted up in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan last month.

"It's a small but select field. There might not be many runners but there are no slouches in there," said Murphy.

"We're happy with our lady and she's in good form. She won really well in Navan the last day and was good in this race last year, so fingers crossed she runs up to her best and she can run another big one."

Although Hurricane Fly is not in attendance this year, his trainer Willie Mullins still has a strong hand with Mourad and Final Approach intended runners.

Thousand Stars looked set to be the hot favourite earlier in the week but does not take his chance, while Mullins has declared Mikael D'Haguenet, but he was set to run today instead.

The champion trainer said yesterday: "I just wasn't happy with Thousand Stars when he worked the other day so he'll wait for Christmas now.

"I've declared Mikael D'Haguenet, but all going well, he'll run on Saturday instead.

"Mourad is in great form and I'm hoping he can still improve a bit. He'll have no problem with the ground or the trip, so fingers crossed for him.

"Final Approach is difficult to place in handicaps so we thought we'd let him take his chance on Sunday."

The Edward O'Grady-trained The Real Article completes the five-runner field.

A decision on Kauto Star's participation in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton could be made as late as a week before the St Stephen's Day feature.

The dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner cast aside fears of his alleged demise with a remarkable success in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.

Trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith are now tasked with the decision of targeting the outstanding 11-year-old gelding at an unprecedented fifth victory in the King George.

Smith said: "We've always said that he's in great shape after Haydock, and he's surprisingly good just a week and a half afterwards.

"But then he's always been a very exceptional horse for getting fresh again after a race.

"We just want to take our time and see how he is, and we probably won't make up our minds until a week or so before the race.

"We don't want to say yes now, and then have him run flat."

Owner Andy Stewart is hoping Oscar Whisky turns up to give Big Buck's a meaningful challenger in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot later this month.

The legendary staying hurdler recorded his 13th successive victory in last weekend's Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, and remains on course to bid for his fourth triumph in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

He will take in a trip to Ascot on December 17 along the way.


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