Grand ambitions for Moore's Home Farm
Come Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, Home Farm should get the chance to further embellish Arthur Moore's superlative record in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National.
The official going description at the Meath venue ahead of the three-day Festival, which gets under way with an excellent Powers Gold Cup card on Sunday, is heavy.
"Once the ground isn't too soft, he will run," Moore said of the deeply progressive six-year-old. "The forecast is pretty dry for the week, so it looks promising."
Should the son of Presenting get the go-ahead to deliver his famously droll Naas handler a third triumph in the €250,000 marathon showpiece, he will be having only his fourth chasing start, after striding decisively clear of White Star Line over two miles and five furlongs at the track a month ago.
Indeed, he has run just seven times in all if you include the point-to-point that he justified favouritism in two years ago.
"By rights he is nearly too inexperienced," admitted Moore, who saddled Feathered Gale and Organisedconfusion to memorable victories in the prestigious handicap chase in 1996 and 2011, respectively.
"But my hands are tied as to what he can run in. It will be a big ask, but the fact that he won around Fairyhouse last time is a positive. He has enough experience to run in the race and learn, so you have to have a crack at it."
Few are better qualified to identify a suitable National horse than Moore, who says the mile-longer trip than last time won't be an issue for his stoutly-bred contender. Like his father Dan, he has ridden and trained a winner of the 143-year-old race.
His niece, Nina Carberry, was also continuing a fine family tradition with her poised steer on Organisedconfusion in 2011. However, Moore's returns are especially smart.
Since 1989, he has had an incredible nine first-three finishes. When Franny Woods came home eight lengths clear on Feathered Gale, they had a former and subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in second and third, namely Jodami and Cool Dawn.
A year later, Woods and Moore were denied back-to-back triumphs when Amble Speedy went down by a short-head to Mudahim in a thriller.
Amble Speedy, along with three others of the nine Moore-trained runners to finish in the first three, was technically still a novice then, though none had so little experience as Home Farm, which has been ridden in each of its three outings over fences by David Casey.
A best-priced 16/1 to become the next big-race winner granted the honour of sporting Moore's trilby in customary celebratory fashion, Home Farm is owned by Chris Jones of Ellier Developments.
The maroon and white striped colours of Jones, who has a farm in nearby Dunshaughlin, are already ingrained in jump racing folklore.
Klairon Davis, Moore's brilliant Arkle Trophy and Champion Chase hero, initiated the distinctive silks' Cheltenham Festival legacy in the mid-90s, while Tiger Cry and What A Charm followed up in handicaps at the Prestbury Park gala in 2008 and 2011.
With just 10st 4lbs on its back as things stand, Home Farm is certainly weighted to be competitive on Monday.
"Hopeful is probably the word I would use," Moore said of his prospects. "We have trained over 60 winners for Chris down the years and he has been a great supporter, so it would be great to have another big winner for him."
Were he to oblige, it would be a fitting finale to a campaign that has seen Moore return to potent form.
When Organisedconfusion plundered the spoils two years ago, he was the sixth and final winner of a season that yielded a miserable 4pc strike-rate.
Numerically, it was the trainer's worst return in an age, though maybe the Fairyhouse coup proved a timely elixir. With 15 winners, Moore's ratio for the current season is an impressive 15pc, a percentage he hasn't topped since the turn of the millennium.
He puts that down to a decrease in quantity and an increase in quality, all of which augurs well ahead of Monday's marquee event.
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