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Meade admits ground a worry for Riches' run

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Trainer Noel Meade

Trainer Noel Meade

SPORTSFILE

Trainer Noel Meade

Noel Meade has expressed fears that soft ground could hinder Road To Riches' bid for a second successive Grade One triumph in the Lexus Chase at Christmas.

The prestigious €150,000 three-miler is pencilled in for Jim Culloty's reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere after he takes in Punchestown's John Durkan Chase on his seasonal reappearance on Sunday week, with the 2013 Gold Cup victor Bobs Worth also expected to be among a high-quality Leopardstown field.

Willie Mullins' four-time Grade One winner Boston Bob is a potential starter in both races, having run as though he was in need of the outing when third behind Road To Riches in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal.

As such, while Sunday week's contest will be a cracking Grade One in itself, with two Gold Cup winners pencilled in, the Lexus promises to be especially informative, and Meade (above) doesn't deny the excitement that comes with testing his still-unexposed seven-year-old in such exalted company.

"It's everybody's dream to have one good enough to run in the Gold Cup and at the moment the dream is still alive," he said of Road To Riches.

"We go to Christmas and we'll see what happens. Whether he goes in the softer ground, I suppose that's going to tell the story whether he can show as much on that or not. You'd have thought on his breeding he'd want fast ground. That would be my one concern about how we get on at Christmas."

Bobs Worth had Lord Windermere 11 lengths behind when claiming the 2013 Lexus, and one of his owners, Malcolm Kimmins, confirmed that Nicky Henderson's nine-year-old is on course to return in the December 28 event following a satisfactory tracheal wash on Monday.

"That's where we're heading - that's the plan," Kimmins said. "He's fine. He's cantering nicely and we'll be ready to go, hopefully at the end of December."

Irish Independent