Sandown trip a possibility for Laurina return
Leading Champion Hurdle hope Laurina could be seen at Sandown next month, as Willie Mullins continues to look for a suitable spot for her reappearance.
Behind only Buveur D'Air in the ante-post market for the two-mile showpiece, the five-year-old skipped an engagement in the International Hurdle at Prestbury Park over the weekend due to ground conditions.
Mullins has already flagged up the possibility of a clash with Buveur D'Air in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle, while the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown and Cheltenham's Relkeel Hurdle on New Year's Day are also in the mix. And now Sandown on January 5 has been added to the options. Mullins said: "The ground is paramount and I want to have soft or heavy in the ground for her first run."
Realistic Samcro remains on course to make his next appearance in the Ryanair at Leopardstown. Runner-up to Buveur D'Air in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, Samcro was entered in the Long Walk Hurdle over three miles at Ascot, but Elliott is maintaining the two-mile plan for now, although he is realistic about the task the six-year-old faces in reversing form with Buveur D'Air.
Elsewhere, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has defended the Fairyhouse stewards for holding a running and riding enquiry into the performance of the JP McManus-owned Ilikedwayurthinkin on Saturday.
The Gavin Cromwell-trained horse started a 7/2 favourite for a handicap hurdle and finished fifth behind Clementina under jockey Mark Walsh after running on strongly late on. The performance provoked much comment but IHRB CEO Denis Egan pointed to a mistake at the third last as crucial to the result.