Sunday 18 February 2018

Another chance for Pady

Forpadydeplasterer has one last chance to get a win on the board this season in tomorrow's Champion Chase on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival.

Tom Cooper's eight-year-old has finished second on all five of his starts this term, including in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham and the Melling Chase at Liverpool.

Barry Geraghty, the man who partnered him to victory in last season's Arkle Trophy, is back in the saddle having ridden against him the last twice.

"Hopefully tomorrow will be his day," said Cooper.

"There is no suggestion at all that he is anything but genuine but he keeps finding one too good.

"He's come out of Aintree absolutely bouncing so while he hasn't had that long to recover, he's telling me he's ready.

"Barry's back on tomorrow, but Davy (Russell) and Tony (McCoy) have done nothing wrong on him the last twice, he's an uncomplicated ride."

While Forpadydeplasterer won last year's Arkle, this year's winner, Sizing Europe, steps out of novice company for the first time.

Henry de Bromhead admits he is taking on the big boys one race earlier than he had anticipated, but both he and the owners, Alan and Ann Potts, are keen to have a crack.

"I suppose we are taking on the older ones one race early than if we waited until next season but we did the same thing with his first run over fences too," said De Bromhead.

"He had that run in May so he's used to doing things earlier than the normal protocol.

"All three of us are really keen to see him take on the best and we are really looking forward to it and hope he puts up another good account of himself.

"The sun is still shining here in Waterford and there is no prospect of rain, but they've put plenty of water on the ground to make sure it is safe and I'm sure it will be.

"He loves good ground anyway, so it shouldn't be an issue."

Ferdy Murphy reports Kalahari King to be none the worse for his Aintree fall.

The North Yorkshire handler said: "He's fine, not a bother on him.

"I'm delighted to see a decent field, actually, so there should be plenty of pace which will suit.

"We don't want a muddling race."

Conditions at Punchestown are similar to when Twist Magic was successful in 2008, and part-owner Barry Fulton is hoping to see lightning strike twice.

The eight-year-old gelding will be ridden by McCoy.

"The ground should be ideal for him but there are a lot more runners than I thought there would be," said Fulton.

"I expected Sizing Europe to go for the novice and Kalahari King to go to Sandown, but it's a Grade One so it was never going to be easy.

"As usual he did nothing at Cheltenham but he was still going OK when he made a bad mistake and Robert Thornton pulled him up when he couldn't win.

"He's very fresh and very well and looks better than he ever has done at this time of year.

"It is more competitive than I expected, but it is quite open as a result of Big Zeb not there.

"We think he's a better horse now than he was two years ago when he won it."

Denis O'Regan, who is looking to forge some new connections having lost his retainer with Graham Wylie, rides Natal, second two years ago, for James Lambe.

"It's a very hot race," said O'Regan.

"I've only ridden him the once but I won on him at Galway last summer.

"Barry Geraghty rode him last time and he ran a real good race behind Tranquil Sea. This is a massive step up in class but you never know."

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