Saturday 25 November 2017

Somersby set to take chance in Punchestown Champion Chase

Hidden Cyclone, with Andrew McNamara will lead the Irish challenge
Hidden Cyclone, with Andrew McNamara will lead the Irish challenge

Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up Somersby could bid to go one better in the Champion Chase at Punchestown on April 29.

The 10-year-old found only Sire De Grugy too strong at the Cheltenham Festival and trainer Mick Channon, better known for his exploits on the Flat, is considering bringing Somersby to Ireland's premier National Hunt meeting.

He said: "He ran a cracker at Cheltenham and we were absolutely delighted with him.

"Punchestown will be a different race and we just hope that the ground is not too soft for him there.

"His jumping has always been his hang-up but he jumped great in the Champion Chase and Hen (Knight) did some intensive training with him beforehand. We hope that he can be competitive."

If connections decide against a trip to Punchestown, Sandown's Celebration Chase a possible alternative.

"We will see what the month brings with Somersby but we are very keen to have a go with him at either Punchestown or Sandown," said Channon.

Somersby could be joined on the journey across the Irish Sea by the Tom George-trained Module, who was a neck behind Somersby at Cheltenham and was withdrawn from last week's Melling Chase at Aintree after suffering a minor bout of colic.

George said: "Module is fine at the moment and it was unlucky that he got a bit of a tummy ache half an hour before he was due to run at Aintree.

"It was nothing serious and he has been back cantering ever since - he could even have run the next day. It was a completely random thing as he was just very uncomfortable on the day.

"He hasn't come down the hill at Cheltenham on both his chase starts there and he was flying at the end (of the Champion Chase)

"He's a very lightly-raced horse and I think a stiff track like Punchestown would suit him."

The likes of Sizing Europe, Ryanair Chase runner-up Hidden Cyclone and the Mouse Morris-trained Baily Green are among the Irish entries.

The Alan King-trained Balder Succes, runaway winner of the Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree on Saturday, could step up to championship grade for this event as could another top novice, the Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever, who was beaten a head in the Racing Post Arkle Chase at Cheltenham.

King told his website: "Balder Succes delivered impressively in the Grade One novice chase on Saturday, and I see the handicapper has put him up 9lb to 162, so we are climbing towards the top of the two-mile tree.

"It paid off not going to Cheltenham and he is still relatively fresh, so he may well go to Punchestown for their big two-miler."

David Pipe's Ballynagour also features among 18 entries.

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