Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 22 February 2018

Cooper determined Forpady will beat the big freeze and run in King George

damien McElroy

Tralee trainer Tom Cooper's determination to test stable star Forpadydeplasterer over three miles on decent ground at Kempton on Sunday has prepared him to undertake an epic trip in the current Arctic conditions -- by lorry and ferry -- to the London venue.

The Kerry trainer's marathon journey certainly sounds like an adventure more akin to one of the great South Pole expeditions carried out by his fellow countyman, Tom Crean (pictured below), over a century ago.

Based at Farmers Bridge, Tralee, in the Kingdom countryside, the intrepid handler -- who exercised his former Cheltenham hero on Banna beach yesterday morning -- is not intimidated by leaving home early tomorrow afternoon en route initially to Dublin. "This has been what we've wanted for the horse all along and, even if the King George isn't on St Stephen's Day, I'm sure they will run it the following afternoon.

"We're committed to going over now and leaving him in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown was very much plan B.

"Our gallops have been totally out of use since Saturday -- it's not safe to go on them, but we did a good piece of work with him last Friday and he's only ticking over at this stage," remarked Cooper, who reported the roads for the hour-long round trip to the seaside "just about okay".

Opting for the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead ferry crossing rather than via the Rosslare-Pembroke route, Cooper estimates that his ultra-consistent Grade One performer will reach Kempton on Friday morning, presuming the British motorways are kept clear.

"We're going there hoping to get better ground when we try him over the three miles. The race should help to sort out the rest of this season's campaign for us," added Cooper, whose splendid jumper is 10/1 with sponsors William Hill to cope with record-breaking Kempton specialist Kauto Star and Long Run.

Riding arrangements have yet to be firmed up for the gelding's latest venture on English soil, and several options are still being considered, with the stable likely to be represented also at Leopardstown and Limerick.

Rather than the high-profile Kempton gathering, Cooper's colleague Michael Hourigan will be concentrating on domestic fare, with Mossbank in the Lexus Chase and A New Story (Paddy Power Handicap Chase) his standard-bearers at the Foxrock course.

Thurles winner False Messenger leads the yard's largely unexposed team into action just up the road at Limerick, where Hourigan plans to visit later today to assess the chances of that four-day session beating the elements.

"There's not a cloud in the sky today and no snow here, but plenty of frost, and it's fairly deep in the ground. My gallops are salted though, and there's spring in the woodchip, so we worked a bunch of them this morning. Mossbank is fine after Fairyhouse, where unfortunately his saddle slipped as the race was getting properly competitive, and he takes his chance in the Lexus," Hourigan explained.

Meanwhile, Wexford-born jockey John Cullen -- who lives in Carlow -- likewise hasn't had to deal with snow, although his customary twice-weekly visits to ride out and school at Tom Hogan's premises near Nenagh have been temporarily put on hold.

"There's not an ounce of it here and I've been riding out at John 'Shark' Hanlon's near Bagenalstown. His gallop is being harrowed through the night and we're able to canter on it. Today we worked some of them on Duninga Gallops which were fine," said Cullen, who expects to be busier at Limerick than Leopardstown.

Irish Independent

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