Farclas spearheads three-pronged Kerry National challenge for Gigginstown

Farclas makes his first appearance since contesting the Grand National at Aintree in the spring as one of three runners for Gigginstown House Stud in Wednesday’s Guinness Kerry National.

The Gordon Elliott-trained grey contested a number of high-profile handicap chases last season – finishing third and fourth in two major events at Leopardstown before filling the runner-up spot at the Cheltenham Festival.

Farclas rounded off his campaign by finishing fifth behind the Rachael Blackmore-ridden Minella Times in the world’s most famous steeplechase and connections are looking forward to his seasonal debut in the feature event of Listowel’s Harvest Festival.

“He’s a very nice young horse who is hopefully progressing the right way,” said Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary.

“It’s his first run of the year, but hopefully he’ll do himself justice.”

The familiar maroon and white colours will also be carried by Elliott’s Conflated and the Assemble from Joseph O’Brien’s yard.

Conflated was a high-class novice chaser last season and is expected to strip fitter for a recent comeback run on the Flat at Gowran Park.

O’Leary added: “Conflated will be sharper for his run. He’s a nice young horse – hopefully he’s a Graded horse in a handicap. The trip might just stretch him a bit.

“Assemble was nearly a good young horse last year and hopefully he’s one to look forward to.

“They all have a squeak and hopefully one of them gets lucky.”

Trainer John Ryan faces a nervous wait to discover whether Fairyhill Run will make the cut for the €150,000 contest.

The six-year-old has been towards the head of ante-post lists or some time following a profitable summer campaign – but much to the dismay of connections, she was only first reserve after the declaration stage.

Ryan, who is also responsible for the third reserve in Waitnsee, said: “It’s very frustrating knowing that a rating of 131 got in last year, given Fairyhill Run is rated 137 and Waitnsee is 135.

“We’ve got until 11am on Wednesday, so fingers crossed.

“Hopefully the two of them get in as they are absolutely flying – they couldn’t be going better.”

Aramax (Elliott) and Darasso (O’Brien) are two of seven runners for leading owner JP McManus, while champion trainer Willie Mullins has declared four for Rich and Susannah Ricci in Brahma Bull, Annamix, Koshari and second reserve Karl De Grosse.

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