McManus aims to divide and conquer with his novice pair
JP McManus is aiming to win Grade Ones with two of his star novice chasers over the Christmas, Coney Island and Anibale Fly.
First and second in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse earlier in the month, both advertised their quality as chasers on the up, and McManus is now keen to keep the pair apart.
As such, Anibale Fly will go in Kempton's 32Red Kauto Star Novices' Chase on Monday, while his Fairyhouse conqueror will tackle Leopardstown's Neville Hotels Novice Chase on Thursday.
The issue of stepping up to three miles, while a clear question-mark for Anibale Fly, does not concern McManus' racing manager Frank Berry. Barry Geraghty is likely to ride.
Berry said: "There is every possibility he will go there and, while the distance represents a bit of an unknown, he was staying on well at the line in the Drinmore.
"He ran a blinder then. After getting a little outpaced early on, he came home well, and I don't think the trip will be a problem.
"Coney Island came out of the Drinmore in fine shape and his trainer Eddie Harty is very happy with him. He did it very well then, jumping like a buck. This is tougher but he's in good order."
There was notable support for the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly yesterday, Paddy Power cutting him into 4/1 from 7/1, though 8/1 was still available last evening with Betway.
Nicky Henderson has entered Altior and Buveur D'Air in the 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton on Tuesday. Altior also holds an entry in the 32Red Desert Orchid Chase on the same card.
Henry de Bromhead has in contention Some Plan, Three Stars and Ordinary World, though all three horses also have engagements at Leopardstown.
Jessica Harrington will have some notable runners at the Co Dublin track. Former champion hurdler Jezki will have his first race in nearly 20 months in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle on Wednesday.
In addition, Sizing John - which switched from De Bromhead - is to make his debut as a senior chaser for the stable, though it will not be easy and he will tackle a familiar foe.
The six-year-old will take on Douvan again in the two-mile Grade One Paddy Power Cashcard Chase on Tuesday, having already been beaten an incredible six times by that horse in his short career.