Moore weighs up Cheltenham task for improving Home Farm
The question of Home Farm's next outing has been an issue of some keen debate since a cracking effort in defeat on his seasonal return, so the presence of Arthur Moore's progressive chaser among the initial entries for the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham will take the eye of ante-post punters.
After readily conquering the subsequent Kerry National winner White Star Line at Fairyhouse in February, the Presenting six-year-old returned to the Co Meath venue to finish an excellent third in the Irish Grand National on just his fourth start over fences.
He then returned from his summer hiatus with an eye-catching display to get within a few lengths of Rupert Lamb over an inadequate two-mile trip at Naas earlier this month.
The prestigious Prestbury Park Grade Three on Saturday fortnight is over the same two-mile-five-furlong journey that Home Farm excelled over at Fairyhouse in February, so bookmakers' initial quotes of 16/1 about him becoming the first Irish-trained winner since Sir OJ in 2005 look generous.
In all, 35 names went forward yesterday, with Nicky Henderson's recent JP McManus-owned course winner Kid Cassidy the highest-rated on 160.
Last year's Paul Nicholls-trained victor Unioniste (10/1) is again among the entries, while Henderson's Captain Conan shares favouritism at 8/1 with Jonjo O'Neill's Paddy Power Gold Cup hero Johns Spirit.
Paul Nolan's recent Thurles scorer Noble Prince is the only other Irish-based entrant.
The raiding party for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day is also potentially strong, with Sir Des Champs, Flemenstar, Mount Benbulben and Lord Windermere among eight Irish contenders.
Barry Connell, owner of Mount Benbulben, is confident that Gordon Elliott's eight-year-old will fence better than when catapulting Danny Mullins out of the saddle at the fourth last at Down Royal at the beginning of the month.
"He schooled a week after Down Royal and jumped perfect," Connell said. "We'll take him for a racecourse gallop before Christmas; hopefully that will put him spot on."