Meade and Flanagan hoping for some Genie magic at Newbury
Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan are quietly confident A Genie In Abottle can grant their pre-Christmas wish by becoming only the second Irish-trained horse since the days of Arkle to win the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.
Ireland is without a win in the famous 3m2f handicap chase since the Michael O’Brien-trained Bright Highway landed the spoils in 1980 but Meade believes the well-fancied A Genie In Abottle can bridge the gap.
Alongside the Willie Mullins-trained favourite Total Recall, the presence of the improving A Genie In Abottle, winner of both starts this season, makes for a strong Irish challenge.
Speaking about the top-priced 10-1 shot, who was supported from odds as big as 16-1 on Monday, Meade said: "I've had quite a few runners in the race through the years and it's often the case that your race is over before the end of the back stretch.
“You need to get into a good rhythm and if he can jump the first few fences well – and he is a good jumper – the race could suit him.
“We're all set and he's in very good form. He did a little bit of exercise yesterday [Tuesday] and I was very happy with how he went. I just hope he has enough gears for it."
Strong winds and a lack of rain are forecast and, while the consensus is that A Genie In Abottle is better on testing ground, Meade believes the six-year-old will be able to show his true ability regardless of the going.
He said: “A Genie In Abottle has run well on goodish ground before and I think it'll be all right for him. Anytime I've been to Newbury the ground has been soft enough and I'd be surprised if it was anything other than good to soft – that should be fine.”
Flanagan believes a strongly run handicap chase is exactly what A Genie In Abottle needs and anticipates a bold showing in Saturday’s feature.
Flanagan, 29, said: “He races a little bit behind the bridle and I think he's been better value than the winning margin suggests on his last two chase starts as he’s had to do a lot of the donkey work lately and that wouldn’t have been ideal for him."
Flanagan, who rates fellow raider Total Recall as his main danger, says it would be special to win another big race for Gigginstown. He has enjoyed plenty of success in the owner's maroon and white this season, most recently aboard the Mouse Morris-trained Alpha Des Obeaux in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase.
He said: “Willie’s horse [Total Recall] is probably the one we all have to beat. He won the Munster National very well at Limerick and the form has been franked when the second Alpha Des Obeaux won the Clonmel Oil.
“But our lad is in good nick at home. It’s obviously a big ask but at the same time he hasn’t had the conditions I think he needs up to now and he should relish the test on Saturday. I think he’ll improve for a race run at a properly strong gallop.
“I’m loving riding at the minute. I’ve never had as many opportunities as I'm getting right now and, while you can only take it day by day, I would love it if I could keep the momentum going with victory on Saturday.”
Osgood, who anticipates no significant rain this week, said on Wednesday: "It's forecast to go down to -1C or -2C tonight, and again probably to -1C on Thursday, but that's no worse than we were expecting and on Friday it could rise to 3C overnight. We've got quite a good covering of grass and that's why I've only covered takeoffs and landings."
He added: "It's still soft, good to soft in places over hurdles, and good to soft, soft in places on the chase track and they say there's just a chance of the odd little shower, so that's not going to change dramatically."
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