Who may prove the fly in the Irish Gold Cup ointment? It could well be Anibale
Tony Martin is keen to test impressive Paddy Power Chase winner Anibale Fly against the best three-mile chasers in Ireland and is gearing the eight-year-old towards a tilt at the Grade 1 Unibet Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown next month.
And the Grand National is on the radar – next year if not this – for Anibale Fly, whose finest hour came at Leopardstown over Christmas when he bolted up in the €200,000 staying handicap chase.
That performance prompted the handicapper to raise the JP McManus-owned gelding 11lb to a mark of 159.
Martin said: “I’ve been very happy with him since Leopardstown and he took the race very well, so we’ll be ready to start eyeing up something in the next few weeks with him.
“His form is there in black in white – he ran Disko and Coney Island close as a novice – and he hasn’t had much racing either.
“I have to speak with Frank [Berry] and the boss [JP McManus] and see what they recommend first. But the handicapper doesn’t tend to be too far wrong and I suppose we don’t have too many other options other than a possible tilt at the Irish Gold Cup after that.
Asked about a possible crack at the Grand National in April, for which Anibale Fly is a general 25-1 shot, Martin replied: “After the Leopardstown win you’d imagine he could be a Grand National type in time. But he’s only a second-season novice and it might come a year too soon, so we’ll have to wait and see about that.”
Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, on Thursday pointed towards bigger things. He said: "Anibale Fly would have to go and mix it with the big boys now.”
Field going great
Great Field, an exciting front-runner who has not been seen since signing off last season's unbeaten novice chase campaign with victory in the two-mile Grade 1 novice chase at Punchestown, is closing in on a return.
Berry said: “You won’t see him until the end of February or early March but he’s on the way back. He just had a couple of small setbacks that have held him up a little but he’s doing light work and we’re hopeful of getting him back out again before long.”
He also provided an update on Carlingford Lough and Edwulf, both of whom failed to complete the Grade 1 Leopardstown Christmas Chase, in which Road To Respect led home a Gigginstown-owned 1-2-3.
Berry said: “Carlingford Lough didn’t perform, which was unusual for him, and he was a bit stiff after the race, but he seems fine again. He’ll also have an entry in the Irish Gold Cup, along with Anibale Fly.
“It was great to see Edwulf back. He got tired but he's come out of the race good. But we’ve no real plans for him at the minute.”
Monalee on mend
The Henry de Bromhead-trained Monalee, who suffered a heavy fall in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown last week, is recovering well, although no plans are in place for the seven-year-old’s return.
The trainer said about the general 7-1 favourite for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham: “He was very stiff and sore after the race but he seems to be improving by the day and we're just monitoring him all the time.”
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