Nicholls likely to miss Ericsson
Leopardstown's Ericsson Chase is turning into an all-Irish affair even though Paul Nicholls said yesterday the former Gold Cup hero See More Business will be kept in the race for the time being.
See More Business is one of three Nicholls-trained horses remaining in the Ericsson but two of them are already definite non-runners.
"Earthmover and Escartefigue will not run but See More Business will be confirmed for the Ericsson in case there are problems with Kempton and the weather for the King George. It's just in case we lose Kempton," Nicholls confirmed.
Another top cross-channel chaser with the King George as a first option is the former Gold Cup runner-up Go Ballistic. A spokesperson for his trainer, Richard Phillips, said yesterday: "We are looking at both races but I imagine he will stay over here."
All of which was of little concern yesterday to Michael Hourigan who gave a bullish bulletin on the current condition of the remarkable veteran Dorans Pride. The former Ericsson winner has had a new lease of life this season and was yesterday reported in "A1 shape" by Hourigan.
"It looks like being a reasonable race, tougher than in some previous years, but even though my horse is the underdog with nothing to lose, they still have him to beat," said Hourigan.
"It's easier for us than say two years ago because if he gets beaten we can blame his age! But the way I look at it if he beats them he will be some hero. And he is very well in himself," he added.
Contrary to earlier reports, both the John Magnier-owned pair Nick Dundee and Native Upmanship will take their chance in the Ericsson.
A spokesperson for Arthur Moore yesterday described Native Upmanship as a "probable" for the race and Edward O'Grady has confirmed he is using the Ericsson as a "stepping stone" on his horse's recovery from serious injury.
"It's unrealistic to think he can go from winning a small race at Navan to winning a Grade 1 in two and a half weeks. It would be a very pleasant surprise if he could do that but I think it would be extraordinary if he were to win," said O'Grady.
Michael Hourigan has also confirmed his smart novice, Moscow Retreat, will take his chance in the St Stephen's Day feature, the Denny Gold Medal Novice Chase, but expressed doubts about Inis Cara having another crack at the lucrative paddypower.com Chase on Wednesday week.