In Compliance in winning action at Thurles
©Healy Racing Photos
Dessie Hughes is hoping In Compliance can earn himself another crack at the Grand National by claiming the featured McCarthy Insurance Group Handicap Chase at Cork this afternoon.
It is over six years since In Compliance secured his solitary Grade 1 success in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase and, although he is now a 13-year-old, Hughes feels his veteran still has plenty to offer.
He was a fine fifth in last year's Grand National when a 100/1 chance and completed the famous Aintree course again when filling the same position in last month's Becher Chase. He needs to go up the weights if he is to return to Merseyside in April.
Hughes said, "Hopefully he'd have a decent chance of winning at Cork, as long as the ground isn't too deep. He ran a blinder in the National last year and ran a good race in the Becher last time, when the ground was too soft for him really.
"Hopefully the ground dries a bit at Cork and then he'd go there with a good shout. It would be nice to have another go at the National as he really loves the place, but he needs to win a race before then."
< In Compliance is one of 13 that go to post in the two-and-a-half-mile contest, with the hat-trick-seeking Come To The Party and the in-form Saoirse Dun other major contenders.
The opening McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle is an interesting heat, with the Willie Mullins-trained Blackstairmountain the best in at the weights as he aims to get back on the winning trail.
He’s unlikely to have things all his own way, however, with top-weight Sailors Warn perhaps his biggest threat.
Mullins also saddles Midnight Oil in the McCarthy Insurance Group Maiden Hurdle. The five-year-old takes a huge drop in class having failed to get competitive in a strong renewal of the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse a month ago.
The first on a seven-race card at Cork gets underway at 12.10pm, with the Tote jackpot pool guaranteed for €7,500. The going is soft to heavy on the hurdle course and heavy on the chase track.