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Mossbank out for the season but Birch is back

MOSSBANK, once described by trainer Michael Hourigan as his "next Beef Or Salmon" and who ended last season as the joint highest-rated chaser in training in Ireland, will miss this season due to a setback.

The eight-year-old, who is owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, has won twice over hurdles and is a three-time chase winner.

He was twice successful over fences last season when he landed the Munster National at Limerick and the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase at Clonmel.

He was subsequently placed three times at Grade1 level, finishing second to Denman in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting and to Our Vic in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

On his final start last season Mossbank finished third behind Neptune Collonges in theGuinness Gold Cup at the Punchestown festival in April and ended the campaign rated 162.

Hourigan said: "Unfortunately Mossbank is on the easy list because of a setback and won't be running this season.                              
"I have no doubt that, given plenty of time off, he will be back in action next year."

Better news has emerged about the 2007 Grand National winner Silver Birch, who is about to go back into trainingand will have the Aintree spectacular as his target this season.

The 11-year-old's trainer Gordon Elliott said yesterday: "Silver Birch banged his near-foreleg last autumn and we decided to give him a long break. He missed all of last season but will coming back into training next week.

"His leg scanned 100 per cent clear and it's all systems go. He will probably have a similar preparation for Aintree as he had for the 2007 National.

"The plan is to go the point-to-point, cross-country chase route with him in the New Year."

Silver Birch has not raced since winning the 2007 National under Robbie Power, beating Mckelvey by three-quarters of a length.



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