Meade parades stars at Christmas launch
Pandorama set for Lexus return
(Healy Racing Photos)
The trainer gave a guided tour to the facilities at the yard as well as parading his star performers for the journalists in attendance.
Horses exercised on a six-furlong sand gallop which also consists of fibre and rubber. The yard also boasts grass gallops with a run of five fences and hurdles and an all-weather schooling surface.
“The horses jump on the grass quite a lot – once a week,” commented Meade. “They always need to school on grass because if they only jump on the sand it's a totally different experience.”
Meade has struck up long-term partnerships with stable jockeys Paul and Nina Carberry and was full of praise for the duo.
“I've always had the policy to get the best I can and Paul has been here so long it's hard to imagine him not being here.
“Nina is a very good judge of what she is riding.”
The Meath trainer has enjoyed a fine start to the season and has a strong legion of horses preparing for the Christmas period.
One of the big names due to return to action is Pandorama, who hasn't run since the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2011, and has been pin-fired in the interim.
“He's back in work and hopefully he'll be ready to return in the Lexus at Leopardstown over Christmas,” said Meade.
“He'll do a fast bit of work every week between now and then. The Lexus will be a big ask.
“He's a horse that is always going to need soft ground and because of that I'd say he'll stay in Ireland.
“Nina rode him schooling one day in Fairyhouse and I said to her afterwards 'you went fierce quick' and she said 'did I?'.
“It was the same when Paul rode him one day at Dundalk. He's such a powerful horse with a great stride and when you ride him you don't realise how quick you are going.”
Meade gave a run down on plans for some of the other notable performers due to turn out over the festive period.
Sword Of Destiny
“He had a tough race first time over fences at Punchestown and mentally he wasn't ready for the Drinmore and that's why we decided to go back to two miles at Navan the last day. He'll probably go for the three-mile Grade One Fort Leney Novice Chase at Leopardstown.”
Ipsos Du Berlais
“He was second to Lyreen Legend at Galway and that was probably a very good run. Hopefully he'll run at Navan on Saturday and then we'll look for something at Christmas. You couldn't go far enough for him.”
“He won a Group 3 in Italy on the Flat. He's always been a horse that's inclined to knock himself out of line jumping and to pull muscles. He was very sore again after his chasing debut at Galway so we've decided to go back handicap hurdling at Leopardstown.”
“He's very talented at home and every time he's been beaten on the track it's been by a good horse. He's a brilliant jumper and has plenty of potential. He'll go for the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase over 2m1f.”
“He won a Grade 3 novice hurdle at Cork last year and just wasn't right after that. He's a very good jumper and will start off in a beginners chase over Christmas.”
“I think we made too much use of him when he got beaten by Jezki at Navan and we sort of set the race up for him. I was pleased with him at Thurles. He'll go for the Grade One Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle.”
“Normally I do a lot of schooling with my horses but we didn't do as much with him as with other horses as we were anxious to win a bumper. There are two things about the run at Fairyhouse the other day. He didn't jump as well as I'd like. He just wasn't fluent and didn't jump and go. The other was possibly the 2m2f could have been a factor. He's out of a Flat mare and by Refuse To Bend.”
“She's entered in the Grade One Paddy Power Future Champions but is more likely to go for a maiden hurdle. To be honest it was a bit of a kick in the teeth when she got beaten at Navan. She's been very keen and we've been trying to get her to relax.”
“To be honest I was disappointed on Saturday even though he won. He didn't find that much and on that run he wouldn't be good enough for the Champion Bumper. Maybe giving him a break is the right thing to do.”
“He's a decent horse on the Flat – rated 95 and has schooled well. He has the potential to make a nice juvenile hurdler.”
Road To Riches
“He looked a real star on his hurdling debut at Punchestown and is an exciting prospect. We'll have to see where he fits in with the other Gigginstown horses. He's entered for the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle (December 16th) but as far as I know Don Cossack is going there so he'll also be entered for the Grade Three three-mile race at Cork this Sunday.”
Meade also mentioned that Realt Dubh will go for the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase and Monksland could run in the Grade Two Christmas Hurdle over three miles.
(Alan Magee & Gary Carson)
Countrywide Flame could face the hardest test of his jumping life if he takes up his engagement in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 29th.