World has Neptune in sight


Pont Alexandre might currently be the headline name among Ireland’s novice hurdlers but Mouse Morris is also targeting Cheltenham with his own major young talent, Rule The World.

Plans were uncertain in the immediate aftermath of Rule The World’s hugely impressive success in the Slaney Hurdle at Naas earlier this month but Morris is now working towards the festival with the Neptune Hurdle currently favourite.

Gigginstown Stud’s €90,000 purchase is a half-brother to Venalmar who found only Fiveforthree too good in the Neptune in 2008 and it is another Willie Mullins star, Pont Alexandre, that currently tops the betting for the race. However, Rule The World is as low as 8 to 1 with Ladbrokes and impressed many with his ultra-smooth defeat of Minsk over three weeks ago.

“There’s 40 days to go yet but if everything goes smoothly I would imagine he’ll be at the festival. He won’t run in the three-miler (Albert Bartlett) and I would say the Neptune is favourite. But if the ground was very soft, the two-miler might come into consideration,” Morris said yesterday.

The Co Tipperary trainer landed the 2006 Gold Cup for Gigginstown with War Of Attrition and the 2010 Neptune winner First Lieutenant remains on course for the race along with China Rock, who ran well for a long way when fifth in the Lexus at Christmas. His trainer said yesterday: “He is going for the Hennessy at Leopardstown next and we will take it from there with him.”

The Dr PJ Moriarty Chase on Hennessy day looks the likely next target for last weekend’s Grade Two winner Texas Jack who is likely to skip the Cheltenham Festival. His trainer Noel Meade reported: “He’s come out of the race really well, I would think it’s unlikely that he’d travel to Cheltenham, I think he’ll stay at home and he might go for the Moriarty Chase and I would hope the Powers Gold Cup would come into the equation as well.”

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