De Bromhead targets 'Special' result in Champion
Henry de Bromhead has confirmed that his unlucky Tingle Creek Chase runner-up Special Tiara will now head straight to Cheltenham in a bid to improve on last year's third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
A dual Grade One-winning two-miler already, Special Tiara was challenging Sire De Grugy at Sandown on December 5 when the eventual winner jumped across him at the final fence.
Despite the collision and obvious interference, Sire De Grugy kept the race following a stewards' inquiry.
Special Tiara is a top-priced 14/1 to make amends at Cheltenham in a race that he ran a blinder in last year when third to Dodging Bullets, and the prospect of decent ground there will be to his advantage.
De Bromhead, who has lost another dark horse for the race after his Aintree Grade One hero Sizing Granite was switched to Colm Murphy's yard by Alan and Ann Potts, will know as well as anyone how hard the odds-on favourite Un De Sceaux will be to beat.
However, having saddled Sizing Europe to win the race in 2011 when the similarly precocious Master Minded was sent off favourite, the excellent Co Waterford handler also knows not to be put off by one horse.
"He has been in great form since (Sandown) and is aiming towards the Champion Chase," De Bromhead said of Special Tiara. "He was third in it last year, beaten three lengths, so I think he has a real good chance. Un De Sceaux is a hot favourite, but you have to take these horses on. He fell at Christmas. I'm not wishing horses to fall, but he did.
"It will be on better ground and I didn't think he was as impressive at Punchestown last year on the better ground, so we'll see."
De Bromhead eschewed the option of entering Special Tiara in Sunday's Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase due to the prevailing ground conditions, with the going officially being given as soft, heavy in places ahead of further forecast rainfall this week.
In his absence, Flemenstar, which capitalised on Un De Sceaux's spectacular departure at Leopardstown, will lead the opposition against Willie Mullins' battalion.
"Flemenstar is in great form since his win at Christmas where he showed that he retains the speed that he always had," said his fledgling trainer Tony Curran. "While it helps that there is no Un De Sceaux to take on, Willie Mullins still sends a very strong team and they will take all the beating".
The irrepressible champion trainer has Felix Yonger, Twinlight and Mozoltov to choose from, with the sponsors making Felix Yonger the 4/5 favourite from Flemenstar at 4/1.
"It looks like all three of ours will run on Sunday," Mullins confirmed yesterday. "They all worked well this morning so hopefully one of them will deliver."
Douvan, meanwhile, was yesterday unveiled alongside 36 other entries for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.
He is one of six that Mullins has engaged in the two-miler, with Killultagh Vic and Shaneshill also in the mix. Both are also in the JLT and the RSA, while the likes of Black Hercules and Pont Alexandre have also been given multiple entries, as has Gordon Elliott's RSA market leader, No More Heroes.
Mullins's Djakadam will spearhead an array of Irish raiders on duty across the water this weekend, and Pass The Hat was yesterday among 15 declarations for tomorrow's Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
Arthur Moore's smart nine-year-old will be partnered by five-pound claimer Donagh Meyler in the old Great Yorkshire Chase, for which he is a 14/1 shot to become the second Irish winner, 63 years after Vincent O'Brien collected with Knock Hard.
"We have been looking for some better ground for Pass The Hat and I am hoping they don't get too much rain at Doncaster before Saturday," Moore said.
"I was very happy with his last run (when second over hurdles) at Punchestown. It was a nice performance and gave us the encouragement to travel over with him.
"He hasn't won over three miles but has run some good races at the trip and I think he gets it on good ground."