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Jumping stars target return for Tipp's Super Sunday card

No sooner had the curtain come down on the final Group One fixture of the domestic Flat campaign at the Curragh 11 days ago than talk began turning to its winter foil.

One minute Camelot's agonising Triple Crown failure and Royal Diamond's hugely popular Irish St Leger triumph are being forensically dissected, the next you are knee deep in mud at Listowel. It's what makes this time of year such an excited fusion of racing anomalies.

On the one hand, the international Flat scene is cranking up for its feverish autumn finale, with the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Champions Day and the Breeders' and Melbourne Cup meetings all imminent. On the other, hardly a day goes by without progress reports on the eagerly awaited comebacks and seasonal plans for jump racing's equine heavyweights.

Just to add to the sense of confused delirium, in recent days it has been announced that Chester, notorious for its tight, circular layout, is bidding to host hurdle races. Lines are blurring all over the place. Few meetings capture the infectious spirit of the time of year than Tipperary's upcoming Super Sunday meeting on October 7.

In the Concorde Stakes, a seven-furlong Group Three, local handler Tom Hogan will saddle Gordon Lord Byron, a fine second in a Group One sprint at Haydock last time. Then, in the next race, Galway Hurdle hero Rebel Fitz, trained by Mick Winters, tackles a Grade Two hurdle.

Next up is the Grade Three novice chase that First Lieutenant made a captivating fencing debut in 12 months ago. Undoubtedly, the venue's mixed programme is the best of its kind in this country and, notwithstanding the same day's Arc at Longchamp, it will provide further comfort for those pining for all things jumping.

The previous day, Sizing Europe is pencilled in to return at Gowran Park. On board there will be Andrew Lynch, due back in the saddle next week after four months off with a broken leg.

Ruby Walsh and Paddy Mangan returned from similar stretches at Listowel, where the performances of potential stars like Back In Focus and Teelin Star really got the juices flowing.

Kauto Star, meanwhile, is reported to be in fine fettle ahead of his potential bid for a sixth King George VI Chase at Kempton. The 12-year-old and Walsh have complemented each other across eight seasons, and the prospect of one last sally come Christmas is a giddy one. There have also been upbeat bulletins on our young pretenders, with Peter Casey's Flemenstar and Philip Fenton's Last Instalment both said to be making good progress.

Likewise, Hidden Cyclone is a horse with untapped potential. Over the past 12 months, far more has gone wrong than right for his caretaker John 'Shark' Hanlon, but the Carlow handler remains upbeat and a bold bid for a first Irish win in Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup for 32 years is on the cards for December 1. Hanlon revealed: "He got very strong towards the end of last season and I'm very happy with him."

Irish Independent