| 13.1°C Dublin

Meade keen for Apache to avoid Vautour rematch

Close

Meade: Making plans for Fairyhouse

Meade: Making plans for Fairyhouse

SPORTSFILE

Meade: Making plans for Fairyhouse

There will be no rematch between Vautour and Apache Stronghold in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse after Noel Meade revealed that he has no appetite to see his classy novice take on the sensational Cheltenham Festival winner again.

Having impressed in conquering Valseur Lido to claim a debut Grade One success at Leopardstown in February, Apache Stronghold carried plenty expectation into the JLT Novices' Chase in the Cotswolds.

However, while the Milan seven-year-old emerged with his reputation intact by narrowly confirming his superiority over Valseur Lido in second, Vautour still blew him away by 15 lengths.

At the time, the winner's performance was officially rated as the best by a novice since the turn of the millennium, only to be bettered by the emphatic Gold Cup triumph of Coneygree 24 hours later.

HAPPIER

Willie Mullins has mooted Aintree as a possible option for Vautour along with the €100,000 Easter Sunday showpiece at Fairyhouse, and few would be happier than Meade to see the exciting Robin Des Champs gelding leave for Liverpool.

"I'd love if Apache Stronghold could get there," he said of Fairyhouse's April 5 Grade One. "He seems good; he seems to have come out of Cheltenham fairly well, so I hope he will get there. There is every possibility that he will but, if Vautour goes there, I certainly wouldn't take him on again.

"If Vautour does go to Fairyhouse, the alternative would be to step Apache Stronghold back up to three miles at Punchestown."

The Mullins-trained RSA hero Don Poli, which beat Apache Stronghold over three miles at Leopardstown over Christmas, would likely be among the opposition there.

Don Poli is owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House firm, as are Meade's RSA third Wounded Warrior and his 2014 Albert Bartlett victor Very Wood, which disappointed in the Festival's four-miler.

Both of those hold entries in the Ryanair, a three-mile Grade Two novices' chase at Limerick on Sunday, as well as the Boylesports Irish Grand National on Easter Monday.

"Limerick might come a bit soon for them," Meade said, "but, if one were to go there, I'd say it might be Wounded Warrior.

"Three miles would suit him and he has plenty weight in the National. Very Wood could run in the National. He is well and has a reasonably nice weight (10st 8lb at the moment) and, if we are happy with him between now and then, he could be a likely runner.

"He didn't perform at Cheltenham and we are in the process of trying to figure out why that was.

"Silver Tassie (also a novice) is another of mine that might get into the National and I'd say that's where we'll head with him."

Mullaghanoe River, a faller five-out in the €275,000 highlight of the Easter festival last year when still in contention, is entered again, but Meade said that he is running out of time to get him to the track at all this term after a mid-season setback.

Monksland is another injury-prone Paul and Patricia Hunt-owned horse that might be finished for the season having returned sore after a below-par turn in the World Hurdle, though Road To Riches, which finished a gallant third in the Gold Cup, might have one more outing.

Snow Falcon could go to any of the three remaining spring Festivals, while Meade is considering giving JP McManus' Ned Buntline, which endured its share of bad luck in running before carrying AP McCoy into fourth on his final Festival ride in the Grand Annual, an outing in a handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Having gone into the four-day bonanza with what looked a forceful team, Meade is phlegmatic about failing to bag a winner, though he regrets not running Wounded Warrior in the four-miler.

"We were well beaten," he said, despite his three Grade One placings, "but that's Cheltenham. I think we made a mistake running Wounded Warrior in the RSA, as I think he would have gone close in the four-miler.

SWITCHED

"Maybe we should have switched him and Very Wood, but I take the blame for that myself."

The former multiple champion trainer's Meath-based colleague Tony Martin looks set to saddle the long-absent Flemenstar at Navan on Saturday.

A triple Grade One winner for Peter Casey, the 10-year-old has run just once since being switched to Martin's care by owner Stephen Curran, winning Navan's Fortria Chase in November 2013 before being sidelined with a leg injury.

Flemenstar will strive to score there for a fifth time in seven outings in Saturday's Grade Two Webster Cup over two-and-a-half miles, with Curran then targeting Punchestown for his extravagant chaser.

Among the potential opposition in Saturday's €40,000 affair are Martin's Savello, Mullins' Felix Yonger and Sandra Hughes' Bright New Dawn.

Irish Independent