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Weather to decide Over' run

DONALD McCAIN is keeping an eye on the ground at Punchestown ahead of Overturn's planned run at next week's Festival meeting.

The eight-year-old is primed to tackle the Grade One Rabobank Champion Hurdle on Friday week after his excellent second in the Champion at Cheltenham.

Winner of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle earlier in the season, Overturn needs ground on the quicker side so trainer McCain is on weather-watch at present.

"We are looking at the Rabobank Champion Hurdle with Overturn," he said.

"He has been fine since Cheltenham and is working away nicely. We purposely skipped Aintree to go to Punchestown and, providing the ground is OK, he will run."

The track is currently described as good to soft, but officials are reportedly expecting a further 10mm of rain in the coming days.

Possible rivals for Overturn would include last year's winner, Hurricane Fly, Aintree Hurdle second Thousand Stars and Dermot Weld's Unaccompanied.

Early Aintree casualty Junior could bid for swift compensation in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday.

The Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival winner was considered by many as a major contender for last weekend's Grand National at the Liverpool track, but his race was over by the second fence for the horse.

Trainer David Pipe reports the nine-year-old to be none the worse and he could make the long journey from Pipe's yard in Devon, south west England, to the track in southern Scotland.

The Pond House handler said: "Junior was an early casualty, departing at the second fence and, as such, he doesn't know that he has had a race.

"We have left him in the Scottish National at Ayr this weekend and he could well participate in that, although he will have to contend with top-weight."

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls landed his first Grand National with Neptune Collonges at Aintree last Saturday and his Harry The Viking, owned by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, is the 6/1 favourite with the sponsors for the Scottish equivalent.

Ruby Walsh fancies his chances on the seven-year-old, who was second to Teaforthree at Cheltenham.

"He ran a cracker to come second in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival, and must have a great chance," Walsh said.

Walsh will return to the saddle at Ayr on Friday.

Walsh had hoped to be back in action for Cheltenham's two-day fixture this week but will wait for this weekend's Scottish Grand National meeting instead.

With the Punchestown Festival also on the horizon, Walsh felt it prudent not to rush his return.

"I'm still a little stiff and I think two more days' rest is the sensible thing," Walsh said.

"While it's a good meeting at Cheltenham, the priority is being 100 per cent fit for Ayr this weekend, and then Punchestown next week."


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