Gavin Cromwell reports Flooring Porter to be in rude health ahead of his bid for back-to-back victories in the Dornan Engineering Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The six-year-old was something of a surprise winner when breaking through at Grade One level in this race 12 months ago, but went on to prove the victory was no fluke by following up in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He looked the most likely winner of the Lismullen Hurdle on his seasonal reappearance at Navan last month before falling two flights from home.
And with King George-winning jockey Danny Mullins in the saddle, Cromwell is expecting another bold showing from his stable star on Tuesday.
“He’s in great nick. He came out none the worse from his fall in Navan and we’ve been very happy with him since,” said the County Meath-based trainer.
“He obviously won this race last year, so we know he likes Leopardstown.
“It’s a strong race, but please God he’ll run well again.”
The biggest threat to Flooring Porter appears to be Klassical Dream, who returned from almost a year and a half of the sidelines with a runaway success at Punchestown under Patrick Mullins in the spring.
The 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero is one of four runners for Willie Mullins along with Saldier, Burning Victory and the long-absent Mr Adjudicator.
Of Klassical Dream, Mullins junior said: “He’s in good form at home, his performance at Punchestown was breathtaking.
“We’re very happy with him so we’re hoping he can reproduce that Punchestown form.
“He was actually ready to run at this meeting last year in a beginners’ chase, he was declared and everything but he had a small setback and he went back hurdling.
“Even though he had a long lay-off, he was in training for a lot of it so freshness isn’t a concern.”
Gordon Elliott saddles Hatton’s Grace third Abacadabras, Lismullen Hurdle second and third Sire Du Berlais and Grand Roi and recent Navan winner Commander Of Fleet.
Matthew Smith’s Ronald Pump finished second in the Hatton’s Grace, but needs to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Long Walk at Ascot less than a fortnight ago.
Smith said: “He seems in good old order. He was just too keen in the blinkers in Ascot, so we’ve taken them off and we’ll give it a go.
“It’s a good race. Klassical Dream was very impressive in Punchestown and you’ve got Flooring Porter in there as well, but if our horse runs up to his best form he should run a good race.”
Sams Profile, trained by Mouse Morris, completes the line-up.