Native May Return At Punchestown

Fri 6th Apr 2012, 14:11

Go Native, among the Rabobank Champion Hurdle entries
©Healy Racing Photos
Go Native could make his eagerly-awaited comeback in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown later this month.

The three-time Grade 1 winner hasn't been seen since a beaten favourite in the 2010 Champion Hurdle but trainer Noel Meade said: "He is getting there nicely and if he was going to run, the Rabobank Champion Hurdle would be the only race he could run in.

"We are happy with what has happened so far with him, everything has been going well so there is a good possibility we will have him ready to run, but how competitive he is going to be I'm not sure.

"It's fabulous to have him back and hopefully he will stay right, but it's when you start putting the final touches to them you begin to worry. It has been a catalogue of disasters since the 2010 Champion Hurdle.

"It all happened in that race but his injury didn't appear to be that much at the time and we didn't think it was going to take this long to get him back.

"He has been off a long time so it's a big ask and he will have to do a few crucial pieces of work in the next couple of weeks."

Also pencilled in for the Punchestown feature is the Dermot Weld-trained Unaccompanied, a mare who captured the Grade 1 Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown after Christmas.

"The Rabobank Champion Hurdle is a possibility for Unaccompanied, we will see what the ground is like nearer the time but it is definitely a possibility," said Weld.

"She is also entered in the Alleged Stakes (on the Flat) at the Curragh - a race she won last year beating St Nicholas Abbey.

"She has been in great form since her last run in the Irish Champion Hurdle. The ground was exceptionally heavy there - they had 36 millimetres of rain before the race and that wouldn't have suited her at all.

"We would be hoping for nice ground at Punchestown because she is a stakes filly on the Flat over 10 furlongs and she also just got beaten in a Triumph Hurdle last year which turned out to be a vintage renewal."

Other notable entries include Hurricane Fly, Overturn and Zarkandar.

GRAND NATIONAL - The Northern Challenge

The Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore was the last northern-trained horse to win the Grand National back in 2013 but recent victories for that part of the country have been thin on the ground since the likes of Lucius, Rubstic and Hallo Dandy in the late 70s early 80’s showed that steeplechasing was in a healthy state north of the Watford Gap with the likes of Gordon W Richards, Denys Smith, Arthur Stephenson, Peter Easterby and Jimmy Fitzgerald capable of holding their own against their southern and Irish counterparts.