Presenting Percy on course for Galmoy Hurdle if ground is suitable

Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite likely to return to action over hurdles at Gowran

Twice pulled out of Grade One steeplechases due to ground conditions, the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy is set to finally return to action this season over hurdles at Gowran later this month.

The Pat Kelly-trained star landed the 2018 Galmoy Hurdle on-route to Cheltenham festival glory in the RSA and the three-mile contest is again on his radar this time – provided ground conditions are soft enough.

The going is almost invariably very soft at Gowran in January and a year ago Presenting Percy won the Galmoy on officially heavy ground.

But after already skipping the John Durkan at Punchestown, and Leopardstown's Savills Chase at Christmas, Co Galway-based Kelly is taking nothing for granted during a winter that continues to supply unseasonably quick ground.


“It’s raining in Galway now but I was down in Adare Manor golfing yesterday and from Gort all the way down the sun was shining and the ground was hard,” he said on Monday.

Although Presenting Percy impressively won the 2017 Pertemps Hurdle at Cheltenham on ground officially described as good, both Kelly and owner Philip Reynolds are keen for the eight-year-old to make his seasonal debut on an easier surface.

Next month’s Unibet Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival has been mentioned as a possible target for Presenting Percy’s return to steeplechase action. But on Monday Kelly pointed to another Gowran race, the Red Mills Chase on February 16th, as a more likely option after the Galmoy.

“That’s the way it is looking with the horse. All is good with him. We’ll just try and get him out as soon as we can. As long as the ground is safe, that’s all,” Kelly added on Monday.

Presenting Percy took in both Gowran races last year on his way to the festival, following up his Galmoy success with a narrow defeat to Our Duke in the Red Mills Chase. Despite not running this season the Irish star continues to top the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting as a general 4-1 favourite.

Leading jockey Robbie Power also referenced the difficulties other connections are having with ground, specifically in relation to the 2017 Gold Cup hero Sizing John returning to action for the first time in over a year.

“I’m nearly 20 years riding now and I’ve never known the ground to be this good in January,” he told a bookmaker’s blog on Monday.

"There are a lot of trainers, like Jessie Harrington with Sizing John and Pat Kelly with Presenting Percy, just trying to get runs into them. The clock is ticking through and they're going to have to run somewhere between now and Cheltenham," he added.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column