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Air Force One

Air Force One: tore a back ligament in the King George VI Chase

  PICTURE: Caroline Norris  

Mann aiming Air Force One at Irish Hennessy

CHARLIE MANN is keen to target the Irish Hennessy with Air Force One in what would be the seven-year-old's warm-up race for the Totesport Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

The German-bred was one of the leading opponents to Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but injured himself early in the race, finishing a well-beaten fifth.

Mann said: "He tore ligaments in his back at the second fence, after which he was never travelling. When we took the saddle off he had a large haematoma that took a week to clear up.

"It has taken a while to get him right and he's only just going back into light work, but Leopardstown [February 8] gives us plenty of time. I'm sure the course will suit him better than Kempton.

"He ran a cracker in the Hennessy at Newbury which is also a flat, left-handed galloping course."

He added: "He did nothing wrong against Roll Along at Ascot and did everything right but still got beat [by Madison Du Berlais] in the Hennessy.

"Now we have a new year ahead of us and I hope he'll show his best form in the Gold Cup."

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