Heaven Help Us begins road to Cheltenham repeat as festival heroines clash
Sunday: 1.30 Punchestown
Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle (Listed Race) | 2m2f | 4yo+ | RTE2/RTV
Heaven Help Us conquered Cheltenham with one of the feel-good stories of last season and the popular mare makes her return in a clash to savour against fellow festival star Telmesomethinggirl.
Paul Hennessy is rightly still basking in the glow of an extremely popular Coral Cup triumph with his homebred seven-year-old.
Having caused a 33-1 upset at last season's meeting, the John Turner-owned mare begins the current campaign as a 14-1 chance with some firms to land the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle in March.
Hennessy said: "One time we used to enter her in these good races because we were mad to have a runner in them – now we have to enter her in them because there's not anywhere else to go.
"The whole journey with her has been a dream. From the very start to right now, it's been nothing short of amazing."
He added: "We tend to just stumble from one race to another and all that we hope is for her to be able to get into a race at Cheltenham in March, taking it from there.
"The Mares' Hurdle looks an obvious target but we'd never rule anything out and the Coral Cup again could be an option depending on her handicap mark."
There's plenty of depth to this Listed event beyond Heaven Help Us with the impressive Henry de Bromhead-trained Mares' Novices' Hurdle winner Telmesomethinggirl also lining up.
The highly regarded Peter Fahey-trained Royal Kahala also holds strong credentials in a competitive nine-runner affair, with Hennessy hopeful of an encouraging run from his star.
"Heaven Help Us has summered very well and I'm delighted with her," he said. "She's in good order and is ready to start off. We took her to Tipperary the other day for a schooling bumper and Danny [Mullins] was delighted with her. As long as he's happy, that'll do me.
"We'd be delighted if she just runs well. She's the easiest horse to do anything with. She wakes up at the races and does her job."
A tilt at the Mares' Hurdle is also a potential long-term target for
Telmesomethinggirl, according to owner Kenny Alexander's racing manager Peter Molony.
"Naturally you'd like to hope we could end up there in March if everything went to plan," he said.
"Henry is keen to get a run into Telmesomethinggirl. She's being aimed at Leopardstown this Christmas [for the Grade 3 Advent Insurance Irish EBF Mares Hurdle] so we're happy to get her out ahead of that. I'm sure she'll come on for the run."
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