Simply Ned and La Bague Au Roi to head strong English challenge
The raiding party for next month's Dublin Racing Festival looks set to be a potent one with Leopardstown favourite Simply Ned leading an 11-strong English challenge.
Nicky Richards' stable star always excels at the Foxrock track and having edged out Willie Mullins' Footpad at Christmas, the pair look set to clash again in the Grade One Ladbrokes Dublin Chase. "The ground won't bother him, he'll be fine whatever it is. We look forward to it, Leopardstown is a happy hunting ground," Richards said.
La Bague Au Roi burst some reputations when landing the Kauto Star Novices' Chase on St Stephen's Day and Warren Greatrex's mare will tackle the best Irish novices in the Grade One Flogas Novice Chase.
"I've been very happy with her. I think she's thrived since Kempton, she looks fantastic and is doing everything right. 2m 5f around Leopardstown will be right up her street, it's perfect conditions," Greatrex said. "If she runs her race, she is going to be bang there. If there's something better, there's something better. But she's been impressing and she's beaten the best over here."
The participation of Gary Moore's Knocknanuss in the Grade One Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase will depend on the going as if it's "any softer than good to soft", Moore insists they won't travel.
Harry Whittington's Saint Calvados may also tackle the Dublin Chase but depending on "ground, conditions and opposition", the six-year-old may instead opt for the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.
One horse which will not be taking his place at either Leopardstown or Cheltenham, however, is Mullins' Great Field following his fall behind Simply Ned over Christmas.
"He got a hard old fall and he's still a bit sore," said Frank Berry, racing manager for owner JP McManus.