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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Long wait over: Meade to welcome back injury-hit Apache Stronghold

Apache Stronghold (right): fends off Valseur Lido to land the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown in 2015
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Noel Meade will be hoping that his patience pays off at Thurles on Thursday as he gets ready to welcome back Grade 1-winning chaser Apache Stronghold, who has been on the sidelines since April 2015 due to a suspensory problem.

Explaining the prolonged absence, Meade said about the nine-year-old: “We thought we could get him back two seasons ago but, after failing to do so, we decided to fire it [the injury] meaning we ended up losing two seasons instead of one.

“He’s ready to run and he's done plenty of work, but obviously he’s not going to be fully wound up. He's taken his work very well and we haven’t had any problems with him. We're looking forward to getting him back.”

Apache Stronghold, who returns in a Listed chase over 2m6f, has taken some noteworthy scalps in his short but promising career, with his finest hour coming in the 2015 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown, where he narrowly accounted for Valseur Lido.

Disko (left): one of a number of Noel Meade staying chasers

The addition of Apache Stronghold represents a bolstering to an already powerful arsenal of Meade-trained staying chasers that includes Disko and Road To Respect.

On the Gigginstown-owned duo, Meade added: “We're happy with the way everything is with our horses at the moment and I'd imagine that Road To Respect will run in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase, while Disko will possibly go to the John Durkan. Those plans aren't set in stone but we're thinking that way at the minute.”

“We were very happy with how Disko won at Down Royal, and obviously we would've been happier had Road To Respect won as well, but we think he’s actually better going the other way [left-handed] as he’s inclined to go left, so you’d imagine he’d be better at Leopardstown.”

Meade revealed that Monksland, like Apache Stronghold owned by Patricia Hunt, is likely to run at Haydock in the Betfair Stayers' Handicap Hurdle on Saturday.

Min lined up for return

The Willie Mullins-trained Min, absent since winning the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December, could return to action in a 2m4f chase at Gowran Park on Saturday where he is among 11 entries.

We decided to fire it meaning we ended up losing two seasons instead of one
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