Jonathan Sweeney is thinking of taking on the big guns with Churchstonewarrior in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle at the County Kildare track on Sunday.
The Cork trainer admits it would be a dream come true to win a Grade One race, although he has yet to decide whether to throw the seven-year-old in at the deep end.
Potential rivals include Gordon Elliott’s duo of Ginto and Hollow Games, Henry de Bromhead’s Grand Jury and the Willie Mullins-trained Whatdeawant.
“It would be a dream to have a Grade One winner, it is for everyone in racing, but you have to keep tipping away in the meantime and to have a horse that might be good enough to run in it is great,” said Sweeney.
“You never know, the prize money is very good and if you’re not in, you can’t win any of it but we’ll wait until closer to the time to decide whether or not he will definitely run. It is a classy race, as you’d expect of a Grade One, and Gordon Elliott’s two horses set the standard.”
Churchstonewarrior won his first two races this season at Sligo and Thurles but was a beaten favourite at Grade Three level when runner-up to Nell’s Well at Cork.
“He hasn’t done a whole lot wrong and it’s been a good year for him, winning his bumper at Thurles last January before finishing second back there over hurdles,” said Sweeney.
“Then he won a maiden hurdle at Sligo and was better again at Thurles. He was second in a Grade Three at the beginning of the month and the first reaction might have been a little bit of disappointment as we thought he had improved again going into that race but Denis O’Regan, who rode him, said he actually ran very well and had definitely improved.
“It was just that Sean O’Brien’s horse Nell’s Well ran better and she has run well again since then, so it obviously wasn’t a bad run.”