Triumph trio head Punchestown entries

Fri 6th Apr 2012, 14:07
Countrywide Flame winning the Triumph Hurdle under Dougie Costello
Countrywide Flame winning the Triumph Hurdle under Dougie Costello
(Healy Racing Photos)
The first three home in the JCB Triumph Hurdle could all clash again at Punchestown later this month as Countrywide Flame, Hisaabaat and Grumeti all feature among the entries for the AES Champion 4YO Hurdle on April 28.

The former will run at Aintree next week and could head over to Ireland to bid for a famous hat-trick.

Trainer John Quinn said: "There is definitely a chance Countrywide Flame could run at Punchestown in the AES Champion 4YO Hurdle after Aintree. I've been happy with him since Cheltenham - he's in good order and I'm very pleased.

"He was too big a price (33/1) at Cheltenham as he was one of only a few horses with graded form going into the race. They obviously didn't think he was good enough but it looked like the best horse had won after the race.

"The Irish form from when he ran Leopardstown in February has stood up well with Hisaabaat finishing second and I think he reversed that form because he jumped very well at Cheltenham whereas before Leopardstown we were frozen up in England so we were not able to school him like we wanted.

"The only ground I wouldn't want is firm, but it won't be firm at Aintree or Punchestown."

The Dermot Weld-trained Hisaabaat, who beat Countrywide Flame at Leopardstown in February and finished three-lengths second to the same horse at Cheltenham, is on course to meet again.

"Hisaabaat is a definite runner in the AES Champion 4yo Hurdle. He has been jumping out of his skin since Cheltenham," said Weld.

"He didn't wear blinkers at Cheltenham because I thought the two miles and half a furlong would stretch his stamina. He is by Dubawi and is a nine-furlong winner on the Flat, which is as far as he wanted on the Flat.

"However, running two miles and half a furlong at the pace they go in the Triumph Hurdle, running a bit keen early on in blinkers, I thought there is no way he is going to get home. We will think about whether or not he has the blinkers on at Punchestown.

"Hisaabaat will also run on the Flat this summer. Punchestown has been very lucky to me and it would be nice to have a winner at the local track. We have been very fortunate to win Grade 1 races there."

Grumeti is one of three entries in the Grade 1 event for trainer Alan King, along with Balder Success and Secret Edge, while Paul Nicholls could be represented by Cheltenham faller Pearl Swan.

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