Hip surgery patient Fleming hoping Tully East still has 'a little in hand'
Alan Fleming is hoping his Cheltenham Festival winner Tully East may still have something to spare from the handicapper in Wednesday's Galway Plate, with the Curragh-based trainer extremely happy with his wellbeing.
Barry Connell's eight-year-old, who competes off a mark of 146 at 10st 12lb in the Tote-backed €250,000 feature, is the general 8-1 joint-favourite for the contest alongside the Willie Mullins-trained Patricks Park.
"Tully East is in great shape and everything is very positive with him," said Fleming on Saturday. "He schooled really, really well the other day and did his last real piece of work this morning."
Tully East, who has raced only five times since landing the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last year, will appreciate the rain that has fallen at Ballybrit in recent days, according to his trainer.
He said: "We'd love yielding ground, it'd be just perfect, and we were delighted to see the rain. He ticks a lot of boxes for the race and had a nice run around Tipperary, which he's come on a lot for.
"You have to remember he's already won a big handicap and it's very difficult for a horse to land two big pots like this. He's lightly raced though and we did fancy our chances prior to pulling him out at Cheltenham – hopefully Barry can be repaid for his patience now."
He added: "Maybe we still have a little bit in hand. He's a brave, very honest horse and gives his all every time."
Victory would serve as a welcome tonic for Fleming, who has been in the wars with a failed hip replacement of late, and he unfortunately won't be able to head west next week to see his stable star.
"I've been out for the last three months with a hip job which went wrong on me," he said. "I got hurt at home one morning with the socket and ball of my hip getting blocked together.
"They ended up doing an emergency thing and they took my hip out, putting half a hip in to run tests for infections. I'm still waiting to get the full hip back in and it's been a frustrating one, carrying on since Punchestown.
"I haven't been racing in a long time and I'd love to get going. Even sitting on a horse is something I'd love to do. And I haven't driven a car for four months."
Fleming and Connell could also be represented by recent Tipperary maiden hurdle winner Devil's Glen, who is entered in the 2m½f novice hurdle on Monday.
He said of the four-year-old: "Devil's Glen is a really nice horse. He's by no means near where he's going to be in years to come I hope, and he's a lovely horse for the future.
"It's going to be competitive on Monday but I think he'll run a big race."
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