Gigginstown Duo First Lieutenant and Sir Des Champs Both Going for Gold 11/04/13
First Lieutenant, an impressive winner of Aintree's Grade 1 Betfred Bowl on Friday, is likely to join Gigginstown House Stud's strong team in what promises to be a great renewal of the €150,000 the Bet Online With The Tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival on Wednesday, April 24.
The Mouse Morris-trained eight-year-old is set to line up alongside the same owner's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs (trained by Willie Mullins) and dual Grade 1 winner Quito De La Roque (trained by Colm Murphy), who finished fourth to First Lieutenant at Aintree.
Eddie O'Leary, racing manager of Gigginstown House Stud, said today: "All going well the plan is for Sir Des Champs to run in the Bet Online With The Tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup. We were second at Cheltenham and you can't change the result but we'll hope for a good show at Punchestown.
"There's a good chance that First Lieutenant will run as well. It's been all good so far with him after Aintree and the horse will line up as long as he tells us he wants to run. Quito De La Roque is likely to go for the race as well. We were happy enough with him at Aintree - he ran a very good race at his level and probably just wasn't quite good enough there."
The Bet Online With The Tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup is shaping into a fantastic event with other likely starters including 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup and dual King George VI Chase winner Long Run, his stablemate Riverside Theatre, the Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Stone, Captain Chris and Seabass, who is set to step up to Grade 1 company after going off favourite in the Grand National on Saturday.
Gigginstown has a particularly strong team of novice hurdlers, with many holding multiple entries at the Punchestown Festival.
Other possibles for the novice hurdles include the Noel Meade-trained Road To Riches, who lost his unbeaten status at Aintree last week, Midnight Oil, a winner over two miles at Gowran Park on Monday, and Cops And Robbers, who finished second in Grade 1 company at Fairyhouse on April 1.
"The situation with most of these horses is that if they are well they will run at Punchestown but we are still finalising which races some of them will go for," said O'Leary.
The runners are likely to be spread between the Grade 1 Herald Champion Novice Hurdle over two miles on Tuesday, April 23, the three-mile Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on Wednesday, April 24 and the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles on Friday, April 26.
"The plan is for Un Atout to run and he could go over two or two and a half miles, we'll keep the options open," added O'Leary. "Rule The World ran very well at Cheltenham and it will be two and a half or three miles for him. Don Cossack will hopefully go for the three-mile Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.
"Road To Riches may also run if he is OK after Aintree while Midnight Oil, who won on Monday, could also line up as could Cops And Robbers."
"If the ground is right Tofino Bay will run in the 3m 1f Growise Champion Novice Chase and Dedigout is also likely to go there but I'm not sure of his target," continued O'Leary.
Meanwhile, a handful of future Gigginstown hurdling and chasing stars look set to be on show in the Punchestown Festival bumpers.
In the Grade 1 Betdaq The Peoples Exchange Champion INH Flat Race on Wednesday, April 24, the Willie Mullins-trained Outlander is set to line up, having won all three of his bumper starts to date.
The €100,000 Goffs Land Rover Bumper on Tuesday, April 23, is likely to feature the Gordon Elliott-trained Wrath Of Titans, who won a point-to-point by a distance on his only start, and Metaurus, who scored between the flags for Pat Doyle at Rathmorrissey last month.
"Hopefully, we will run Outlander in the Grade 1 and although he looks exciting we will find out next week and we plan to run Metaurus and Wrath Of Titans in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper," continued O'Leary, who is looking forward to the Irish National Hunt Festival.
"The Punchestown Festival is a meeting we love to support and it is second only to Cheltenham for us. And as I said, if our horses are happy and well they will be going to Punchestown."
Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Michael O'Leary, is bidding for a first Irish owners' championship this season and is currently around €200,000 ahead of J P McManus in the title race. The season finishes on the final day of the Punchestown Festival, Saturday, April 27.
BUMPER ENTRIES FOR SHOWPIECE HANDICAPS
Fantastic entries from both sides of the Irish Sea are revealed today for three of the big handicaps at the 2013 Punchestown Festival.
Seabass, who was sent off favourite for the Grand National, and the mare Nadiya De La Vega, a Grade 3 winner at Fairyhouse for Henderson on April 2, are among the others entered.
There are 53 in the €80,000 Grade A AON Novice Handicap Chase, staged on Friday, April 26, including Gordon Elliott's high-class duo Mount Benbulben and Realt Mor, winner of the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup on his latest starts.
The Paul Webber-trained Cantlow is one of eight entries trained in Britain.
A massive 90 entries have been made for the €80,000 Setanta.com Handicap Hurdle on Saturday, April 27.
Those engaged include Minella Forfitness, winner of a Listed Handicap Hurdle at Aintree for Nicky Henderson, the Jessica Harrington-trained Jetson, who has been placed at both Cheltenham and Aintree and the high-class Felix Yonger, who has not run since last season for trainer Willie Mullins.
There is prize money of €2.2 million euros at this year's Punchestown Festival, running from Tuesday to Saturday, April 23 and 27, and featuring top-class racing on each of the five days.
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