Meade calm on Native hopes
Noel Meade's stable star Go Native continues to dominate the ante-post market on the Champion Hurdle, which will be staged for the last time next Tuesday under the banner of the Smurfit Kappa organisation.
The international company announced the termination of a 20-year association with the opening-afternoon highlight yesterday as watering continued at the course in a bid to ensure some ease in the going.
While reported in some quarters as being concerned that the taps had been turned on there this week, former champion trainer Meade declared: "I'm not upset about them watering the track; we all want safe ground.
"Ground the same as on the first day last year -- good to soft -- when Go Native won the Supreme Novices Hurdle will be fine. I understand what they are doing and I just hope the forecast is right and they don't get any significant rain," added Meade.
"What we don't want is tacky ground, like when he won at Kempton after Christmas. Go Native worked yesterday at Dundalk and I couldn't be happier -- he was brilliant."
In addition to Paul Carberry's intended mount, which could also claim the much-touted £1m WBX bonus next week, the Castletown handler left Donnas Palm and last year's fifth Muirhead among the 17 confirmed entries yesterday.
Irish trainers are responsible for 10 of the Champion survivors, with Dunguib re-routed to the Supreme Novices Hurdle and both last year's winner Quevega and Voler La Vedette waiting for the Mares Hurdle.
Meanwhile, the Tom Mullins yard in Goresbridge will have six horses lining up during next week's meeting, with Oscar Dan Dan going for the World Hurdle and Davy Russell aboard Tavern Times in the Champion Bumper.
Fosters Cross is being aimed at the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy and Time Electric has the Pertemps Hurdle Final firmly on his agenda. Mullins can choose between the Ryanair Chase and the Byrne Group Plate for Made In Taipan while Some Present has been left in both of the novice hurdles.
Triumphant at the fixture a year ago on Character Building in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase, Wexford amateur Jamie Codd expects to be linking up with one of English trainer David Pipe's runners this time.
His intended National Hunt Chase mount Clan Tara from the Paul Nolan stable has gone lame however and this leading point-to-point exponent could be in St Patrick's Day action at Down Royal on Pat Martin's Agus A Vic.