Martin opts to swerve Ascot feature with Quick Jack
TONY MARTIN has decided not to send his progressive novice hurdler Quick Jack to Ascot for Saturday's Ladbroke Hurdle.
The four-year-old, a winner at Cheltenham last month, had been as low as 5/1 favourite in the ante-post market for the valuable two-mile handicap, but it now looks like he will be aimed at either the Boylesports.com Hurdle at Leopardstown on January 25 or the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 8, before he returns to the Prestbury Park Festival in March.
"We said we'd leave him for the Boylesports. The owner (John Breslin) will be home, so we said we'd sit back and wait," said the Meath handler. "There's plenty of options -- the race in Newbury and the County Hurdle later on. He'll be entered for a few, but we won't run him until the new year.
"We said we'd give him a bit of a break after Cheltenham. We'll just sit on the fence until the new year and give him one or two races before Cheltenham in March.
"He'd been on the go since the Galway Festival and he has had plenty of races since then."
There are still two Irish-trained entries after a total of 27 horses stood their ground. They are Gordon Elliott's Flaxen Flare and City Slicker from the Willie Mullins stable.
The weights are now headed by Ptit Zig, a Grade One winner at Auteuil last month. The four-year-old is one of three possibles for Paul Nicholls along with Sametegal and Irish Saint.
A decision on Ptit Zig's participation is not likely for a couple of days. "We've left him in on Saturday and there's also a race for him at Cheltenham on New Year's Day," said co-owner Barry Fulton.
"Paul has slight concerns about carrying top-weight. I think we are going to have a look on Wednesday and see how he is. I'm quite keen. It's a big pot."
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson is also triple-handed with Rolling Star, Chatterbox and the JP McManus-owned Snake Eyes. Leading a team of six left standing from David Pipe's yard is the French import Dell' Arca, which had Sametegal in second place when winning the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on his British debut.
Pipe's other possibles are Ronaldo Des Mottes, Shotavodka, Waterunder, Swing Bowler and Dan Breen.