Quito on Comeback Trail in Punchestown Gold Cup
Trainer Colm Murphy today confirmed that Quito De La Roque will bid to end his season on a high in the Grade One thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup on the second day of this year’s Irish National Hunt Festival, Wednesday, April 25.
Tote Ireland was yesterday revealed as the new sponsor of the famous 3m 1f contest at which Murphy’s exciting chaser has been aimed, having missed the Cheltenham Festival. Others confirmed to run in what promises to be a fabulous event include Captain Chris, trained in Britain by Philip Hobbs, and the John Durkan Memorial Chase winner Rubi Light.
“Quito De La Roque will run in the thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup and thankfully he is back in good form and seems very well at the moment,” said County Wexford-based Murphy.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned eight-year-old bagged his first Grade One at the Punchestown Festival last year when romping home in the Growise Champion Novice Chase after three successive Grade Two victories at Naas, Navan and Aintree.
He won the Grade One JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on his comeback this season before finishing third behind subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December.
“He had a sinus problem and it would have been a rush trying to make Cheltenham, but he has been back in full work for a while now,” added Murphy. “He goes on any ground, but he wouldn’t want it firm.”
Trainer Philip Hobbs today confirmed that the eight-year-old Captain Chris was set to return to Punchestown, where he ran out a brilliant winner of the Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase last year.
“Captain Chris is on course for the thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup,” said Hobbs. “He won’t run anywhere beforehand and is very likely to line up at Punchestown. He has been fine since his last run in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, but he does need to go right-handed. He jumped with more confidence at Cheltenham which was good to see.”
Also likely to line up in the thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup is the Robbie Hennessy-trained Rubi Light, the five-length winner of the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December before finishing second in the Lexus Chase. He finished fifth in the Ryanair Chase over 2m 5f at Cheltenham and Hennessy feels a step up in trip at Punchestown will prove beneficial.
“I wouldn’t be concerned about tackling three miles again - the form of the Lexus Chase is working out well with Synchronised winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup,” said Hennessy. “Andrew (Lynch) came in after the Ryanair Chase and said maybe three miles will suit him better in Grade One company. They were just going a bit too quick for him down the back at Cheltenham and Andrew said they just had him out of his comfort zone.
“Rubi Light will run in the thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup if we get the ground, he would like it on the soft side. He has had ten days off in the paddock since Cheltenham - he came home all right.
“We will probably start him off in the three mile races next season and see how he gets on. We can always switch back to two and a half miles if we’re not happy. He is still a big baby. He was the youngest horse in the Ryanair Chase and I would say another summer’s grass under his belt will do him the world of good. He is something exciting to look forward to next year.”
FINGAL BAY HAS PUNCHESTOWN OPTION
Trainer Philip Hobbs today revealed that the unbeaten and hugely-exciting novice hurdler Fingal Bay could line up at the 2012 Punchestown Festival.
After three Grade Two successes, the six-year-old landed the Grade One Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury on his latest start.
“We will give Fingal Bay an entry in both the Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles and the three-mile Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle depending on the ground,” said Hobbs. “If the going is too firm at Aintree he will go to Punchestown instead and there is a slim chance he could run at both meetings.”
BIG ZEB AND VOLER LA VEDETTE ALSO ON-COURSE FOR PUNCHESTOWN TARGETS
Trainer Colm Murphy will saddle a number of high profile performers at the 2012 Punchestown Festival including Big Zeb, who will be attempting to defend his Boylesports.com Champion Chase crown on Tuesday, April 24, after a gritty victory over arch rival Sizing Europe at the meeting last year.
Big Zeb will run in the Boylesports.com Champion Chase - he has come out of his last race at Cheltenham in really good order,” added Murphy. “We were a bit disappointed with his run at Cheltenham, but saying that, he has probably run his race. I would hope we could get a bit closer to Sizing Europe at Punchestown, but like I say, I will only be hoping.
“I’m not sure if he is suited better to Punchestown rather than Cheltenham because he has run so well at both tracks, but every year he is that bit older going back.”
Murphy continued: “All going well Voler La Vedette will go for the Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at Punchestown. She has come out of her Cheltenham run exceptionally well and we’re hoping that if she runs as well as she did in Cheltenham she will run a big race against Quevega.”
ENTRIES CLOSE NEXT WEEK
The five-day Irish National Hunt Festival runs from Tuesday, April 24, to Saturday, April 28. Entries for Punchestown’s early-closing Grade 1 contests close on Wednesday, April 4, and they will be announced on Thursday, April 5, and Friday, April 6.
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