Murphy looking to skies over Quito run
Colm Murphy confirmed yesterday that his talented novice chaser Quito De La Roque will run at Limerick on Sunday, provided there is sufficient ease in the ground.
The Wexford-based trainer bypassed Cheltenham with the Gigginstown Stud-owned gelding due to unsuitable going, so Sunday's Hugh McMahon Memorial Chase is now the plan, should the forecast rain materialise. Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown outfit has three other entries in the Grade Two, which was won in 2009 by last year's Irish Grand National hero Bluesea Cracker.
Quito De La Roque, like Bluesea Cracker a winner in heavy ground at Fairyhouse in 2010, has won four of his last five starts, with subsequent RSA Chase victor Bostons Angel his only superior at Leopardstown over Christmas. Since then, Quito De La Roque has recorded a pair of impressive Grade Two triumphs at Naas and Navan.
"It all depends on the ground," Murphy said of the seven-year-old's prospects of lining out, "but there is every chance he could run on Sunday as we've had some rain and there is more forecast. Aintree next week is another option, while Punchestown is also in our plans if the ground is right."
The official going at Limerick is currently good, though racecourse manager Russell Ferris suggested yesterday that 5mm of overnight rain had eased it slightly.
Murphy also revealed that Quito De La Roque's classy stable companion Voler La Vedette is to be covered by Glenview Stud's champion jumps sire Presenting in the coming days, before making her final racecourse appearances at the upcoming Fairyhouse and Punchestown Festivals.
One that won't be taking in both meetings, however, is Gordon Elliott's Jessies Dream, a narrow runner-up to Bostons Angel at Cheltenham. Elliott favours a tilt at the Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown on May 3 over Fairyhouse's Powers Gold Cup the previous week for the Drinmore Chase winner.
"He'll go for the Grade One at Punchestown," the handler stated. "They're close enough together, and he had a hard race at Cheltenham, so we're waiting with him for Punchestown."
Elliott also outlined plans for his successful Cheltenham duo Chicago Grey and Carlito Brigante. Chicago Grey's next target is the Scottish Grand National -- for which there are nine Irish-trained entries -- on April 16, while Carlito Brigante will tackle Big Buck's at Aintree this day week.
Elliott burst on to the scene when sending out Silver Birch to land the Grand National at the Liverpool course in 2007, and his Backstage is one of the leading fancies this year.
Robbie Power, who partnered Silver Birch in that race to glory, has finalised his riding plans for this year's contest and will ride Killyglen for Stuart Crawford.