Zabana camp exude confidence with Lexus in mind
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The Andy Lynch-trained Zabana, a Grade 1-winning novice chaser last term, will bid to return to the winner's enclosure in this feature 2m4f chase.
He enjoyed no luck at the Cheltenham Festival last season when he was left at the start when the tapes were raised for the JLT Novices' Chase, but put things right at Punchestown last spring when winning the Grade 1 champion novice chase.
Lynch has a plan in store for his stable star and is already eyeing a Christmas trip to Leopardstown for the Lexus Chase, should the seven-year-old post a good performance here.
"He's come out of the run at Down Royal in flying form and we're expecting a big run from him," said Lynch. "Davy [Russell, jockey] schooled him the other day and he couldn't have been happier.
"We needed to start him off at Down Royal, but we hadn't the clearest of runs with him before his seasonal debut, and all things considered he ran well."
The trainer added: "He's been in top form since and if he runs well in this we'd go to Leopardstown for the Lexus."
Harrington seeks return to form for Ttebbob
The Jessica Harrington-trained Ttebbob looked a top-notch recruit to chasing last term when winning his first two starts over fences, one of which was a Grade 3, but his form tapered off.
Harrington said: "It's an ideal place to start, with the small field, and I hope he runs well. It's his first run and he seems in good form. It's a very tidy little race."
The JP McManus-owned and Edward O'Grady-trained Kitten Rock has run just twice over fences since finding Faugheen nearly ten lengths too strong in the 2015 Champion Hurdle.
Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said: "Edward seems very happy with him and we're looking forward to getting him out."
Champagne West is another who has not shown his best form of late and has recently joined the stable of Henry de Bromhead having left Philip Hobbs.
De Bromhead said: "He seems in good form and we're looking forward to getting him started. The softer the ground the better for him, and I hope the ground is okay."
The field is completed by the Willie Mullins-trained Tennis Cap, who runs in the famous Violet O'Leary silks.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: "It's a very good race. It's not an ideal starting point as he's wrong at the weights with Zabana, who is a class act that should prove hard to beat.
"You also have Ttebbob in there, and he likes to front-run, and don't forget Kitten Rock once ran in a Champion Hurdle. But we are looking forward to getting his season under way."