Tizzard camp confident their star 'Oscar' can stay distance
Connections of Finian's Oscar are confident he will have no problem getting the trip in the Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown today.
The Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old - which made his public debut on these shores when winning a Portrush point-to-point in October 2016 - will race over an extended three miles for the first time over fences as he bids to back up his top-level success at Aintree a fortnight ago.
Joe Tizzard, the Dorset handler's son and assistant, said: "His jumping got caught out racing down the back at Aintree but he got there in the end.
"Good ground will help him and three miles looks right up his street as well.
"We are expecting a big run from him. He is a horse that has still got a lot to more to come."
Henry de Bromhead hopes Monalee can go one better back on home soil, having found only Presenting Percy too strong at the Cheltenham Festival.
"He seems really well and hopefully he will give another good account of himself," said the County Waterford handler.
"He has won over this sort of trip a couple of times and it looked to me like he stayed it in the RSA."
Willie Mullins will be triple-handed with Al Boum Photo, Invitation Only and Rathvinden in his attempt to win the race for a fourth time.
The trainer's son and assistant, Patrick Mullins, explained: "Al Boum Photo was very tough in Fairyhouse and I don't see the step up to three miles being a problem for him.
"We don't know how Invitation Only would have done at Cheltenham as his race was ended at the fourth-last. He finished behind Al Boum Photo at Fairyhouse but over a different trip so that might see him in a better light.
"Rathvinden was very tough at Cheltenham. He gave his all but he's recovered well since and his rating gives him a good chance of being in the first three."
Mullins Jnr expects Getabird, one of four runners for the Closutton handler in the Herald Champion Novices' Hurdle alongside Sharjah, Draconien and Whiskey Sour, to be hard to beat in the Grade One event.
He said: "I think at Cheltenham the atmosphere just got to Getabird. He did appear to jump a little to his right but he is very good right-handed.
"When I rode him before Cheltenham he beat Mengli Khan and I'd expect him to do so again.
"Sharjah, who I ride, runs in a first-time tongue strap. He was running very well at Christmas on decent ground before he fell but he hasn't run on that ground since so I think a combination of that and a tongue tie should help him show his best form."
Vision Des Flos appeared to appreciate the drop back to two miles at Aintree and another big run is expected from the Tizzard-trained five-year-old.
"He came back from Aintree in really good form and was jumping out of his skin so we decided to have another go," said Tizzard Jnr.
"It might have taken its toll at Aintree but we won't know until we get there.
"He ran very well at Cheltenham but he didn't quite get home. He travelled really well and the drop back to two miles helped him finish second at Aintree. He is a fair horse."
A return to a quick surface is expected to suit Supreme Novice fourth Paloma Blue, according to De Bromhead.
"He was good the last day at Cheltenham," said the trainer. "He is in good form and hopefully he will improve for the better ground. It didn't surprise me at all how he ran at Cheltenham."
While Mullins has four representatives, title rival Gordon Elliott fields one less than him with the Jack Kennedy-ridden Mengli Khan expected to lead his charge along with stablemates Hardline (Sean Flanagan) and Cartwright (Mark Walsh).