Dermot McLoughlin’s high-class mare Santa Rossa is set to bid for Grade One glory in the Racing Post Champion Bumper at Punchestown.
After springing a surprise with an impressive debut win at Fairyhouse in December, Santa Rossa proved that victory was no fluke when following up at Grade Two level at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival in February.
She suffered her first defeat when third against the geldings at Aintree — and while she has the option of running in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race at Punchestown, McLoughlin feels the daughter of Jeremy can take on the boys again.
“Finny Maguire rode Santa Rossa in Aintree and he just thought she got too keen as they were going past the stands the first time,” said the County Meath trainer.
“She still turned into the straight travelling well, and I think she deserves to take her chance in the Champion Bumper.
“I’ll discuss it again with the owner, Mr Conway, closer to the time — but I think she would be entitled to go for that race on her form so far.
“She has come out of her race at Aintree in great form, and everything we’ve asked her to do she has gone and done. She is always a filly you would be looking forward to, and the ground wouldn’t be any inconvenience for her.”
Another of McLoughlin’s highly-rated inmates is Canardier, who won a bumper at the 2017 Punchestown Festival.
Following two fine runs at Cheltenham and Aintree — finishing fifth and third respectively — the seven-year-old is due to finish his season in the Ballymore Handicap Hurdle on the final day of this year’s Festival.
McLoughlin added: “It was just a pity the ground went for Canardier in Aintree, but hopefully that doesn’t look like it will be a problem at Punchestown.
“You don’t need to do much with him between his races — he’s fit and a very clear-winded horse.
“He ran a great race at both Cheltenham and Aintree, and the only problem with that is that you are creeping up the weights the whole time — but that’s life.
“It’s a nice pot at Punchestown, and I hope he’ll finish on a high.”