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Solwhit and Davy Russell win the Dobbins & Madigans At Punchestiwn Hurdle Punchestown 14.11.2010

Solwhit has been off the track through injury since January last year

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

Star hurdler Solwhit set for Punchestown return

SOLWHIT, a six-time Grade 1 winner and one of the few horses to have beaten Hurricane Fly over hurdles, returns to action at Punchestown after a lengthy absence on Monday.

The track must pass an inspection on the day of racing and Solwhit will be running for the first time in 708 days if the meeting is on.

An injury to a suspensory ligament has forced him out of action since January last year and he faces six rivals in the Follow Punchestown on Facebook Hurdle over 2m4f.

Trainer Charles Byrnes said:  "I'm looking forward to having Solwhit back on the track.

"He will obviously come on plenty for the run. He's as fit as I can get him at home, but due to weather conditions he hasn't had a racecourse gallop."

Puffin Billy

The exciting Puffin Billy (white cap) is unbeaten in four races

  PICTURE: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images  

PUFFIN BILLY, a leading contender for novice hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival in March, is likely to have his first run at the track next month.

Trained by Oliver Sherwood, the unbeaten Puffin Billy is 8-1 for the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle and 10-1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

His next race, according to Sherwood, will be the Grade 2 novice hurdle over 2m4½f at Cheltenham on January 26.

Speaking on At The Races on Sunday, the trainer said: "He's grand. I was thinking of going for the Tolworth next Saturday, but I'm not going to.

"I'm going to keep my guns dry and go to Cheltenham.

"Then we'll decide whether he's going to go for the two mile [Supreme] or the two and a half mile novice [Neptune] at the Festival."

Grands Crus - Kempton - 26.12.2011

Grands Crus can be backed at 33-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

DAVID PIPE has yet to decide if Grands Crus will run in the Ryanair Chase or Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, but was delighted with his effort in Wednesday's King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Having his first run since flopping when favourite for the Paddy Power Gold Cup in October, Grands Crus was third behind Long Run and Captain Chris in the Christmas feature.

He can be backed at 12-1 for the Ryanair (William Hill) and 33-1 for the Gold Cup (Coral) and the trainer said: "I thought it was a fantastic run, the best we could have hoped for in those conditions after he had a wind op.

"He had a bit of time off so I thought he ran a cracking race. He just got tired in the home straight."

Pipe, speaking on the At The Races, added: "We're back on track and it is onwards and upwards. It will be the Ryanair or Gold Cup."

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