Cheltenham first for Collins
Tracey Collins will have her first ever Cheltenham Festival runner his month through Loch Long.
Collins, who trains on the Curragh, is much better known for her exploits on the Flat, first through assisting her late father Con and then for achievements under her own name through the likes of Dandy Man and Pencil Hill.
Loch Long won several times last summer but was set some pretty stiff tasks, faring best when finishing third to subsequent Irish Leger winner Alandi in a Listed race at Fairyhouse.
He was beaten 24 lengths by Sea The Stars in the Irish Champion Stakes and was a similar distance behind Fame And Glory in the Irish Derby.
His hurdling campaign started off with two apparently ordinary runs at Leopardstown and Gowran Park but Collins believes his latest effort, when 17 lengths second to JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite Alaivan in a Grade Two at Fairyhouse, was much more like it.
Collins has made entries in both the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle and the Triumph itself.
"He's entered in the two races and definitely goes, but we haven't made a decision on which race," she said.
"The last run was much better and far more like the ability he has showed at home.
"He was nearly brought down in the maiden at Leopardstown and we just can't explain the run at Gowran, it was nothing like him.
"I'm 90% Flat, I just have a few jumpers, but you always want an opportunity to be at the biggest meetings like Royal Ascot and Cheltenham."