Thursday 22 February 2018

Easter return on cards for recovering Townend

Thomas Kelly

PAUL Townend's hopes of becoming Irish champion jump jockey have received a major boost after he was told he should be able to return from injury for the Grand National meeting at Fairyhouse.

Townend fractured his collarbone in a fall at Navan on Saturday, and having undergone surgery to pin the broken bone, it is now odds-on that the Cork native will have "no problem" returning to action at Easter.

Turf Club chief medical officer Adrian McGoldrick reported yesterday: "He has a displaced fracture to his left collarbone and that has been pinned today. He and Kevin Coleman, who also broke his collarbone at Navan, should both be back for Fairyhouse no problem."

There was also good news for Emmet Mullins, who will not need surgery for an injury sustained in a fall at Thurles last Thursday and could be back on the track this weekend.

Elsewhere, Paul Nicholls' Master Minded is set to step back up to two and a half miles in the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree on Friday week as connections consider trying him over three miles next season.

The King George VI Chase at Kempton next December is a possible objective for the eight-year-old, which was well beaten in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, a race he has won twice in the past.

"He's going for the two-and-a-half-mile chase as long as he's fit and well," Nicholls stated. "The way he ran in the Champion Chase this year, he's not going to beat those horses again unless the ground is very soft."

Cheltenham Festival winners Big Buck's (World Hurdle) and Zarkandar (Triumph Hurdle) are also among Nicholls' Aintree team.

Tim Vaughan is keen on a crack at the Scottish Grand National at Ayr with Beshabar following his fine display at the Cheltenham Festival.

"Beshabar will definitely be entered for the Scottish National, although I'm not 100pc sure we're going to go that route yet," said Vaughan.

"We could just let him be, give him a couple of runs over hurdles next season and then go straight to the Grand National at Aintree."

Irish Independent

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