Presenting Percy team keeping fingers crossed for rain over Christmas period

Philip Reynolds indicates Leopardstown more likely than Kempton for Gold Cup Favourite

Connections of Presenting Percy are keeping their fingers crossed for rain in order to get the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite back into action over Christmas.

Last season's top novice missed out on an intended reappearance at Punchestown earlier this month when ground conditions were judged too quick for him to line up for the John Durkan Chase.

The search for more suitable going for his first start of the season means a supplementary entry into Kempton's King George VI Chase hasn't been ruled out. However it is the €175,000 Savills Chase on Day Three of Leopardstown's Christmas action that's a more likely target according to Presenting Percy's owner, Philip Reynolds.

“Looking at the forecast, Leopardstown is supposed to get this week what Kempton is to get in the next 10 days. They’re looking at 10mls over 10 days, whereas that’s due by Friday at Leopardstown. So that being the case it’ll be more than likely Leopardstown.


“You’d also be hopeful that there a chance it will get into the ground there. We need something that at least has yielding in the description, and for it not to be sitting on top,” the well-known businessman said.

“It’s not like he needs soft ground. Arguably he’s better on better ground. But not for his first start of the year. That’s why he didn’t run at Punchestown. I was racing there that day and there was water lodged around. It just hadn’t got long enough to get itself in,” Reynolds added.

Impressive winner

Presenting Percy was an impressive winner of last year’s RSA at Cheltenham and is as short as 7-2 favourite to win at the National Hunt festival for a third year in a row. The Pat Kelly-trained star was successful in the Pertemps Hurdle in 2017.

He was backed into 3-1 favouritism with some firms on Tuesday for the newly-titled Savills Chase where Presenting Percy’s opposition could include last year’s winner Road To Respect, already a comfortable Grade One scorer this season in the JNwine Champion Chase at Down Royal.

Leopardstown's final day festival highlight next week will be the Ryanair Hurdle where Samcro is likely to try and rejuvenate a reputation damaged by two defeats already this season. However his jockey Jack Kennedy remains a huge fan of the Michael O'Leary trained star.

“He’s still probably the best horse I’ve ridden. I wouldn’t be losing faith in him,” the teenage star reported although he admitted: “The pressure is off at this stage. Things will be a little bit more relaxed next time he’s out.”

Kennedy partnered his first ever Grade One winner at Leopardstown’s 2016 Christmas festival on board Outlander in former Lexus Chase.

He can look forward to a number of other good rides next week including the eight-time Grade One winning mare Apple’s Jade who is set to try and repeat last year’s victory in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle.

“She was unbelievable at Fairyhouse in the Hatton’s Grace (earlier this month.) She made good horses look ordinary and she’s in great form,” Kennedy 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