American Keri Brion may be feeling her Irish experiment has been cursed by bad weather, but she has high hopes Winston C can provide her with a win in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas on Sunday.
Formerly trained by Harry Fry, Winston C is among the best jumpers in the United States, with two Grade One wins to his name.
With soft ground form from his time with Fry, he is not the stereotypical US jumper – but he does have a 500-day absence to overcome.
Brion has seen several other options for him washed out, but feels she may have the best one now in any case – as long as the meeting survives a morning inspection.
“The weather has been unbelievable since I got here, you couldn’t script it if you tried!” she said.
“We do think he’s got a good chance, but he’s obviously coming off quite a long lay-off. He’s been training for a while now over here and I’m happy with him.
“He did have a schooling bumper in the States before we got here in November, so he should be ready to go.
“We were going to go to Navan before Leopardstown as we didn’t want to go straight to Leopardstown off such a long lay-off anyway, so we found this spot and while it’s no easy spot, I think it’s a suitable race and back at his trip of two miles.
“The race at Navan was over further than this, they hadn’t had all the rain when I originally entered him, but I think this is a better spot to try him out.
“We’re not going to take him to Leopardstown now because of the timing, but I think this is good. We’ll find another spot for him after this.
“He was only beaten about 10 lengths in a Grade One over at Aintree as a novice, so everybody knows him. He has form on soft ground.
“They go slower over here than in the States and he has an unreal turn of foot, so if the ground isn’t too bad, hopefully he can show that.
“He’s a small horse, but very talented as well.”
Noel Meade’s Beacon Edge sets the standard, having finished third in the Hatton’s Grace to Honeysuckle.
Gordon Elliott’s Grand Roi has untapped potential, though, and was a good winner at Limerick last time out.
“He looked a very promising type in England last season and I was delighted with how he progressed from his first run for us at Galway to when he won at Limerick over Christmas,” Elliott told Betfair.
“The Limerick race was an easier one than Galway and he was dropping into four-year-old only company, but I was delighted with how he jumped and coped with the testing ground and he won quite nicely.
“He has a bit to do on ratings here and possibly he will come into his own over longer trips, but I think we have yet to see the best of this horse and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with him. I’m hoping for a decent showing here.”
Coeur Sublime, Bachasson and Poseidon complete the field.
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