Presenting Percy will contest next month’s Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown with connections opting to head to the Dublin Racing Festival rather than seek a hat-trick of victories in tomorrow’s Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.
Owner Philip Reynolds is keen for Pat Kelly’s stable star to put his Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials to the test once again over fences having finished fifth in the Savills Chase at the Foxrock track over Christmas.
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Reynolds expects safe ground at Leopardstown with watering planned for this week and he hopes that the nine-year-old shows his true form in an intriguing renewal against the likes of Delta Work and Kemboy.
“I was disappointed at Christmas. He wasn’t beaten far, but he was never really in the race until the second-last. He’s better than that and I hope he proves it in the Irish Gold Cup,” Reynolds said yesterday. “That, combined with the watering and the rain they’ve already had, should mean the ground is safe.
“It would have been nice to bid for a third Galmoy Hurdle. But he’s a chaser now, and that’s hopefully what he’ll be doing at Cheltenham.”
Another horse with the Cotswolds in mind is last year’s Ballymore hero City Island and Martin Brassil is set to put the seven-year-old’s chasing career on ice for the moment.
Brassil’s stable star was far from fluent in his two chase starts this season – both ended in defeat – and with time against him ahead of the Festival, the Kildare trainer has opted to go for the Stayers’ Hurdle, for which he is a 16/1 shot, and tackle reigning champion Paisley Park.
Meanwhile, British champion jockey Richard Johnson may miss out on Cheltenham after he broke his arm in a fall from Westend Story at Exeter yesterday.
With Cheltenham starting in seven weeks’ time, Johnson is up against it to be fit for the four days beneath Cleeve Hill that define each jumping season.
Johnson can also forget about winning a fifth jump jockeys title as he is already three behind Brian Hughes.
Now Hughes must watch for the likes of Sam Twiston-Davies and Harry Skelton coming to challenge him for the honour that AP McCoy made his own for so long.