Hanlon Hoping Leader Can Test Mikael

Wed 16th Jan 2013, 18:54

Western Leader
©Healy Racing Photos
Trainer Shark Hanlon is hoping Western Leader can put it up to Mikael D'Haguenet in an interesting WT O'Grady Memorial EBF Novice Chase at Thurles on Thursday.

Mikael D'Haguenet was a comprehensive winner when the pair met over hurdles at Punchestown on New Year's Eve in 2011, but has had his jumping issues since tackling fences.

Western Leader was initially retired after breaking down at Aintree in the spring of 2010, but has been nursed back to health by his trainer and made a winning debut over fences at Fairyhouse last time.

Hanlon said: "The last time we met Mikael D'Haguenet it was our lad's first run in almost two years and hopefully we're in better shape now.

"We were delighted with him the last day in Fairyhouse and I think he has come on since then and his jumping seems good.

"We know Mikael D'Haguenet is a class horse, but our horse is a class horse on his day and we'll have a go at him.

"It's a good little race."

A four-runner field is completed by He'llberemembered and Tabhachtach.

The Cheltenham Festival - Will You Have a Flutter?

The Cheltenham Festival begins on the 14th March. The excitement is building: horses are being put through their final preparations on the gallops, jockeys are being booked for rides and anticipation is high for the four day Festival. Many thousands of racing fans will make the trip to the Cotswolds while others will watch from afar but, one thing is for sure, they will all have a bet on their fancies for the big races.

THE IRISH TIMES