Portrait King lined up for return to scene of past glory
Portrait KING will strive to reclaim his Eider Chase crown at Newcastle later this month after showing much of his old sparkle on his last two starts.
The grey 10-year-old provided Maurice Phelan's modest Athy stable with a famous triumph under Denis O'Regan in the marathon handicap in 2012.
He subsequently failed to perform to the same high standard, but a stunning triumph last month in Punchestown's Conyngham Cup, followed by a gallant second to Embracing Change in the same venue's Grand National trial, constitute two of his finest performances.
Phelan has since given Portrait King a speculative entry in the Grand National. While he would be unlikely to get in at Aintree off his current Irish rating of 134, success in the Eider would enhance his prospects.
"It's the intention to take him to Newcastle," said Phelan. "It's great to have him back. His last race was very good and he's come out of it well. I hope the ground is soft; it usually is and it certainly suits him after his problems.
"He had a bit of a leg and fractured his pelvis twice so he has had his share of problems. We've got him back, though, and Denis told us after Sunday he'd love to ride him in the Eider."
The 2012 Irish Grand National hero Lion Na Bearnai also looked reinvigorated at Fairyhouse last week when second to Los Amigos. Tom Gibney says that he will now consider a third tilt at the Co Meath venue's marquee event on Easter Monday for his veteran.
Sandra Hughes, meanwhile, has confirmed that The Tullow Tank and Sub Lieutenant will fulfil their Leopardstown Grade One engagements on Sunday.