Gold Cup bound: Road To Respect and Disko represent strong hand for Meade
Noel Meade is charting a path towards the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup with Road To Respect, who finished a fine fourth in the Cheltenham equivalent last month but can perform even better on more suitable ground, according to his trainer.
Meade also raised the prospects of welcoming Disko back to the fore in the same race, entries for which were revealed on Thursday along with the other four Grade 1 contests across the opening two days of the Punchestown festival – Altior, Samcro and Laurina also featured among the big names.
Meade reported Grade 1-winning chaser Road To Respect to have come out of Cheltenham in rude health and he was installed as the 11-4 favourite for the Punchestown Gold Cup by Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power.
“Road To Respect is in great form and came out of the Gold Cup really well," he said. "We didn’t even think twice about going to Liverpool. Punchestown has been the plan ever since Cheltenham.”
Reflecting on his performance in the Gold Cup, in which he was beaten 12 and a half lengths behind Native River, Meade said: “The ground was what it was at Cheltenham and, while it was the same for everyone, it just wasn’t ideal for us on the day.
“For a race like the Gold Cup you need all of the boxes ticked and I suppose that was the one box we didn’t tick, but he ran a very good race – he just didn’t get home on that ground. We’re looking forward to Punchestown.”
Dual Grade 1-winning novice chaser Disko, like Road To Respect owned by Gigginstown House Stud, could be ready to make his return in the €275,000 contest.
Not seen since winning on his seasonal debut at Down Royal in November, Disko, winner of the Growise Champion Novice Chase at last year's Punchestown festival, is reported in “tremendous form.”
Meade said: “Disko had a little stress crack in a bone in his hock – a tiny little thing really – but it was just enough to stop us for much of the season.
“He’s been cantering away and is in great form but as to whether he’ll be fit enough for Punchestown, I’m not sure. I thought with the way things have been going, everything's been good, we’d give him the entry seeing as he’s in such tremendous form.
“If he doesn’t go for the Punchestown Gold Cup, I’m not sure that there’s much else for him, although I haven’t spoken to Michael or Eddie [O’Leary] about that yet.”
Gigginstown also have Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos in the race, while Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf, Irish Grand National hero General Principle, last year's Irish Grand National winner Our Duke and Gold Cup third Anibale Fly also feature.
Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (April 25)
Paddy Power: 11-4 Road To Respect, 4 Balko Des Flos, 6 Bellshill, Our Duke, 7 Djakadam, 10 Anibale Fly, Definitly Red, Disko, 14 bar
Potential Punchestown fireworks
The meeting could begin with fireworks as the unbeaten Samcro and brilliant mare Laurina feature among the star-studded entries for the Grade 1 Herald Novice Hurdle over two miles.
Champion Chase winner Altior heads the entries for the €275,000 Boylesports Champion Chase, though he has other options at Aintree and Sandown.
Willie Mullins, who will be eager to eat into Gordon Elliott’s €550,801 lead in the race for the trainers' title, has entered the likes of Min, Douvan, Great Field and Un De Sceaux in the two-mile showpiece.
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