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Dreaper duo on National service ()

Jim Dreaper wants cut in the ground for Los Amigos and Goonyella ahead of the Boylesports Irish Grand National Chase at Fairyhouse on Monday.

Although the County Meath handler questioned whether the consistent Los Amigos can go the distance, Dreaper is convinced his other National candidate fulfils the criteria to win the race.

Goonyella failed to make the cut as a reserve for the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree and was unlucky at Fairyhouse 12 months ago when his saddle slipped.

Dreaper told the Irish Examiner: "My pair's chances increase if the ground turns up soft, and I'm expecting them to encounter perfect ground.

"I'm not certain if Los Amigos stays three miles and five furlongs. There's an assumption that horses who stay three miles will get anything beyond that trip, but I'm not so sure.

"He won over hurdles before Christmas then finished second in the Thyestes to On His Own before finishing third to Gallant Oscar at Naas.

"Goonyella travelled to Aintree a couple of weeks ago but didn't get in and that could have been a blessing from God. If he had run there, or had managed to go any distance around, then he wouldn't be running this Monday.

"In last year's Fairyhouse National we thought he was well handicapped but his saddle slipped quite early so that was that. But I'm certain Goonyella has the winning of a Grand National in him.

"Seven-year-olds have a terrible record in the race, and that's not a fantastic statistic to be faced with, but he's in terrific form here at home so we're heading to Fairyhouse to have a go.

"Goonyella and Los Amigos are two improving horses and two genuine stayers. They're heading to Fairyhouse fit and healthy, and definitely have their chances."

Fly on track for more records ()

Hurricane Fly is on target to try for a sixth successive win at the Punchestown Festival.

The remarkable 10-year-old, who boasts a record 19 Grade One victories, is on course for the Racing Post Champion Hurdle, which he has won for the last four seasons, on May 2, while the opposition is likely to include Jezki, who had him back in fourth place when lifting the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Hurricane Fly, who also won the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle in 2009, could be joined by his unbeaten stablemate Un De Sceaux.

"Hurricane Fly will run in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle and he is in good shape," said Mullins.

"I'm not certain where we will go next with Un De Sceaux - if he goes to Punchestown, he will run in the Champion Hurdle as well."

Another superstar aiming for a Punchestown five-timer is Quevega, in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle on May 1 after she lifted the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham for the sixth year running.

"Although Quevega is in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders' Fund Mares Champion Hurdle on the Festival's final day, she normally goes for the stayers' race, the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle, and we would love to win it again with her for a fifth consecutive time this year," said Mullins.

The County Carlow trainer's powerful team at the five-day feast includes a possible three-pronged attack with On His Own, Boston Bob and Prince De Beauchene, on the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup on April 30, a race he won last year with Sir Des Champs and in 2002 with Florida Pearl.

"Boston Bob has come out of his Melling Chase win in good shape and he will more than likely run in the Punchestown Gold Cup where he could take on his stablemates Prince De Beauchene and On His Own," said Mullins.

"We are hopeful that On His Own can gain compensation in the race for his short-head second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He ran a cracker there, is in excellent shape and we are really looking forward to running him at Punchestown."

The mare Annie Power, whose only defeat came when second in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham, has a number of different entries and Mullins is biding his time before deciding her Punchestown target.

"Annie Power is entered in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle and the Ladbroke World Series Hurdle and we will have a look at the entries closer to the time. She came out of Cheltenham well and is in good form again going into Punchestown," he said.

Glens Melody, runner-up to Quevega at Cheltenham, is to bid to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle on May 3 while Champagne Fever, second in the Arkle Trophy is to step up in trip for the Growise Champion Novice Chase on April 29.

"Champagne Fever ran his heart out in Cheltenham only to go down by a head on the line. He has emerged from the Arkle in good shape and he is in all the novice races at Punchestown," said Mullins.

"It is possible he might run in one of the longer races so the Growise Champion Novice Chase is looking a likely target at this stage. We'll probably have a good crew in that race and it's possible that Djakadam, who like Champagne Fever is also owned by the Riccis, will take him on."

Mullins could also dominate the novice events with Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Vautour heading for Herald Champion Novice Hurdle on April 29, Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle victor Faugheen going for the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle on May 2 and Don Poli, winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, targeting the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on April 30.

"Vautour came out of Cheltenham in great shape and we are looking forward to running him back at Punchestown, where he won a Grade Two earlier in the season," said Mullins.

"Don Poli is entered in both the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle and the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle but the chances are that he will run in the latter race over three miles on the Wednesday. He is very, very well in himself right now.

"Faugheen is another horse who has come back from Cheltenham in good shape and he also holds entries in the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle and the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle but at the moment, I would say the former race would look a good target for him on the Friday over two and a half miles."

Bobs Worth unlikely for Punchestown ()

Nicky Henderson has firmed up some of his options for Punchestown but Bobs Worth is highly unlikely to be among his team.

The Seven Barrows handler expects to take about 10 of his string over for the Festival but it will be Long Run, a faller in the Grand National, and not the 2013 Gold Cup winner who will be his representative in the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup.

Impressive Aintree winner Beat That is also set to travel.

"Long Run will go and Bobs Worth, in all probability, won't, he's going to have a break," said Henderson.

"I think Beat That will go for the three-mile novice (Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle) and Kentucky Hyden and Royal Irish Hussar will go for the juvenile race (AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle).

"There's a nice race for Ericht and we'll probably take about 10 in all."

Fahey braced for Sand storm ()

Sandiva aims to keep her Classic dreams alive as she make her seasonal reappearance in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket on Wednesday.

Richard Fahey's filly won three times from five starts as a juvenile and also ran a super race in defeat when chasing home Kiyoshi in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Her only disappointing run of the campaign was her most recent appearance in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp in October, but with conditions less demanding on the Rowley Mile, she is favourite to bounce back in the Group Three.

Fahey said: "We're happy with her and she's where we'd want her to be for her first run. We've had no issues with her and this is a great stepping stone to tell us where we're heading with her.

"She's fit and well and we're looking forward to getting her started."

Queen Catrine finished in the first three on each of her six starts and was placed in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, the Princess Margaret Stakes, the Lowther Stakes and the Boussac.

Trainer Charlie Hills said: "We are very pleased with Queen Catrine and she is very forward in her coat, although she may find seven furlongs a bit on the sharp side.

"We obviously want to win a Group race with her and she does try very hard. We always thought that she would make up into a better three-year-old.

"She is entered in all three versions of the Guineas - in England, Ireland and France - and we will just have to see how she gets on in the Nell Gwyn before we decide where she goes next."

David Brown's Wind Fire is closely matched with Queen Catrine on a couple of pieces of form and although she has yet to race beyond six furlongs, the Nottinghamshire-based trainer does not expect the extra distance to be a problem.

He said: "She's wintered well, she's in excellent order and looks a picture. I am expecting her to take the step up to seven furlongs nicely. She appears to stay well at home, although it's obviously different on the track.

"I'm very confident she will stay and be equally as good as she was over shorter distances. If that is the case, she'll give them all something to think about.

"She's entered in the Guineas, so we'll see how she gets on, but it's certainly exciting times.

Marco Botti saddles Euro Charline and Pelerin, both of whom head into the race unbeaten.

Botti said: "Euro Charline is a nice filly and although she has won her two races on the all-weather, she has worked nicely on the grass. She went up 20lb for her last win at Wolverhampton, so this will be a good test for her and tell us where we are.

"We hope she is a black type filly and the trip and the ground should be fine for her. She's is not in the English Guineas, but she is in the Irish Guineas.

"Pelerin also her maiden at Kempton nicely, she has a good pedigree and we have been pleased with her work at home. We think she is better than her mark (81), but this will tell us how good she could be."

Free and easy for 'forward' Medinah ()

Trainer Mark Usher is confident Miracle Of Medinah can make his presence felt in the CSP European Free Handicap at Newmarket on Wednesday.

The son of Milk It Mick enjoyed a superb juvenile campaign in 2013, winning four times from eight starts and rounding off his season with victory in the Group Three Somerville Tattersall Stakes on the Rowley Mile.

He faces five rivals upon his return to action and Usher reports his stable star in rude health.

The Berkshire handler said: "He's wintered well and looks forward in his coat and is forward in himself.

"He had a spin around Kempton two weeks ago, which pleased me, and hopefully the ground will suit, as long as they don't put too much water on. He likes quick ground.

"It's an interesting race and looks quite competitive, but we have to start somewhere and our horse is a course and distance winner. I'm optimistic he'll run a big race. Whether that is good enough to win it, we'll have to wait and see."

Heading the weights for the Listed contest is the Richard Fahey-trained Parbold, who showed quality form as a juvenile.

Fahey said: "He's a big colt and I'm sure he'll improve for the run, but I'm happy with him at home and we're looking forward to getting him started.

"He has to give weight away all round, but if he's going to be a Guineas horses he needs to be doing that, so we'll see."

Aeolus won twice for Ed McMahon last year and was last seen chasing home Night Of Thunder at Doncaster in October.

That now looks solid form after the winner chased home the brilliant Kingman in Saturday's Greenham Stakes at Newbury.

McMahon said: "He's going to get his ground, which is a positive, and I don't think the step up to seven furlongs will be an issue. We're keen to give him a chance at it, anyway.

"It's a handicap, which means he's receiving weight from all but one of his rivals. If Night Of Thunder had won the Greenham, we'd have been a bit happier, but if you take the winner out he would have done, so we have to take positives from that.

"It's a small field, which I think will suit and it's going to tell us a bit about where we are with him and what trip he needs."

Night Of Thunder's trainer Richard Hannon unleashes the unbeaten Shifting Power.

He told his website "This has always been Shifting Power's target. He won his two races impressively last year, but we put him away early as we felt that he was going to be a better three-year-old, and he has done really well through the winter."

Mushir has also yet to taste defeat, having won at Kempton and York for Roger Varian as a juvenile.

The Newmarket handler told "Mushir showed himself to be useful last year and although he is not overly big, he has done well physically over the winter. We are asking him a stamina question by stepping him up to seven furlongs but he seems well and should run a good race."

The field is completed by William Haggas' Saayerr.

Obliterator ready to roar for Lyons ()

Ger Lyons is looking forward to seeing what Obliterator can do on the track when he starts his three-year-old campaign in the ebm-papst Feilden Stakes at Newmarket on Wednesday.

The Oratorio colt, co-owned by Qatar Racing, has several lofty entries, including in the Qipco 2000 Guineas, and won his only race to date in highly promising fashion at the Curragh in September.

Lyons has brought Obliterator to Newmarket in search of suitable ground and to give him vital experience.

"He's a lovely, gorgeous-looking colt," said the County Meath handler.

"He won his maiden well and there's no reason than he needs top of the ground. We don't have that in Ireland and we don't have the race for him, so it's an obvious place to show our hand.

"I think he's a potential 10-furlong horse, so rather than going up two grades and straight into a Guineas I wanted to see him in a Listed race.

"Nine furlongs will suit and the most important thing is the ground. I couldn't be happier with the horse. The only negative is we have to travel to do it, but that's what we've got to do. He's travelled well and it will all be part of the experience."

Trainer Mark Johnson believes Somewhat will be suited by the step up in distance.

The son of Dynaformer has to give 3lb to all his rivals because of his success at this level in the Washington Singer Stakes at Newbury in August after which he was second to Berkshire in the Royal Lodge Stakes before being unplaced in the Racing Post Trophy.

"I suppose the 3lb penalty makes it more difficult than otherwise," said the Middleham handler.

"He's done very well over the winter and I think this is an obvious starting point for him. I think the trip should suit him."

Ismail Mohammed is hoping the ground will not have dried out too much for Stormardal.

The Shamardal colt won a Carlisle maiden in impressive fashion on soft ground and was not disgraced when fifth to War Command in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on his final outing last season.

"He's working very well and I think the ground will be OK," said the Newmarket trainer.

"He's doing very well. We worked him last Saturday and we are happy with him. He should run very well if we don't have any problem with the ground. Hopefully there will be enough moisture in the ground for all the horses."

Richard Hannon is happy with his two runners, Barley Mow and Truth Or Dare, as they embark upon their three-year-old campaigns.

"You can forget Barley Mow's comeback run at Lingfield recently as it turned into a three-runner farce," the trainer told

"He challenged wide on the home bend and got carried into the centre of the track - had Ryan (Moore) gone inside I think he would have won, but Barley Mow will appreciate both this extra furlong and the more conventional track, and, hopefully, he can make amends here.

"We also run Truth Or Dare, who can be lazy at home but had a good blow-out at Herridge on Monday. He showed himself a smart colt, too, last year, and we are looking forward to getting him going again."

Williams - Buy needs to Wise up ()

Evan Williams is keeping his fingers crossed the talented Buywise can brush up his jumping in the Wooden Spoon Charity Silver Trophy at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

The seven-year-old has been well placed by his trainer to rack up a hat-trick of victories since the turn of the year, with a Taunton triumph sandwiched by a couple of similarly comprehensive victories at Ludlow.

He ran a remarkable race to finish fifth in the Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival given he made a number of jumping errors and Williams admits getting from one side of a fence to another smoothly is his gelding's Achilles heel.

Williams said: "He jumped like his legs were tied together at Cheltenham last time and there is plenty of evidence to suggest if he'd jumped better he'd have gone very close to winning.

"It's an interesting one, as there is no doubt he's got a big engine. We've just got to try and sort the jumping out.

"We found some nice little gaps for him (before Cheltenham) at some of the lesser tracks and he went from that to going to an elite track, so I can't knock the horse.

"He can be a bit sloppy and there is no doubt he's a little bit wooden, but that's for his jockey to worry about!"

Buywise is one of 10 horses declared for the two-mile-five-furlong Grade Two feature, with the Paul Nicholls-trained Pacha Du Polder heading the weights.

Next in the list is Caroline Keevil's stable star Bally Legend, who won the valuable BetBright Chase at Kempton on his penultimate start before a slightly below-par showing at Newbury.

Keevil said: "He loves the sun on his back and he seems in very good form.

"He came out of his last race well. Two and a half miles at Newbury was just a little bit too sharp for him.

"He's only racing over a furlong further on Wednesday, but two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham, going up that famous hill, is very different.

"He's only a small horse, which is why we decided to miss the big Festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, as he would have been running in bigger fields.

"This race has cut up, as we expected it to, and it has been his main target since he won at Kempton in February.

"We're looking forward to seeing him run and I don't think the quicker ground will be a problem."

Astracad, Carrickboy and Real Milan also feature in a wide-open contest.


Arod team take cautious approach ()

Connections of Monday's runaway Windsor winner Arod are keen to "let the dust settle" on his emphatic victory before committing to future targets.

Third at Kempton on his only appearance as a juvenile, Peter Chapple-Hyam's Teofilo colt was backed as though defeat was out of the question upon his return to action.

Although he pulled fiercely for much of the 10-furlong journey, Arod picked up strongly in the closing stages to seal a five-length victory under Jamie Spencer, earning him quotes of 33-1 for the Investec Derby at Epsom in June.

Chapple-Hyam, who has trained two previous Derby winners in Dr Devious (1992) and Authorized (2007), was unsurprisingly keen to play down the hype on Monday.

David Redvers, racing manager for the owners Qatar Racing, is similarly in no rush to get carried away at this stage.

He said: "It was a smart performance. He got a bump early on in the race, which lit him up, so I think we'll be treating him with kid gloves to ensure he benefits from the experience, rather than gets lit up by it.

"We'll let the dust settle, I'll have a chat with Peter and Sheikh Fahad and see where we go from here. No decisions have been made at this stage.

"He could go quietly into a conditions race somewhere, or he could go for the Dante (York, May 15), we'll just have to wait and see."

Redvers revealed some members of Chapple-Hyam's team feel the three-year-old compares favourably with unraced stable companion Hydrogen, who was the most expensive yearling bought anywhere in the world in 2012, costing Qatar Racing �2.5million.

"It has long been the talk in Peter's yard that Arod is pretty smart," said Redvers.

"I think half the yard were in the Arod camp and half the camp were in the Hydrogen camp, so it's nice at least one of them has come out and shown he's got it."

Night camp favour French Guineas ()

Night of Thunder, runner-up to Kingman in the Greenham Stakes, is likely to be aimed at the French 2000 Guineas, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.

Connections of the Richard Hannon-trained colt are leaning towards the Longchamp Classic rather than the Qipco 2000 Guineas after he lost his 100 per cent record at Newbury on Saturday.

"If Kingman gets any ease in the ground at Newmarket he will be very hard to beat, but, while you should never fight shy of one horse, the chances are we will take Night of Thunder to Longchamp for the French equivalent," stable jockey Richard Hughes told

"I have always liked Night of Thunder, but, like Kingman, he, too, is better when he can get his toe in, and he is more likely to get those conditions in Paris.

"Longchamp is also an easier mile which would suit us, and, having finished just three lengths off the best colts in France when I rode Barley Mow in the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere on Arc day, I think we have a pretty decent guide to where we stand.

"Night of Thunder would certainly go there with a big shout."

Scott learns Melodic lesson ()

Jeremy Scott will plan next season's campaign for Melodic Rendezvous around soft ground whether it be over hurdles or fences.

While Melodic Rendezvous will be schooled over the bigger obstacles in the autumn with a view to going novice chasing, Scott has not ruled out running the talented eight-year-old over hurdles if the going is suitable.

Melodic Rendezvous endured mixed fortunes this term, his victories in the Elite and Kingwell Hurdles at Wincanton and the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock tempered by below-par efforts in the Fighting Fifth, Champion and Liverpool Hurdles.

"He's fine. I think it was two quick races and we know now that he definitely wants soft ground," said Somerset-based Scott.

"He'll be out in a field and we will get him schooled up in the autumn over fences. We'll just see, there are also the graded hurdles if conditions are favourable."






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