Mick Winters is confident stable star Chatham Street Lad is ready to put up a bold bid under top-weight in the JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National at Limerick.
The Beneficial gelding was rated just 118 this time 12 months ago, but makes his return from a summer break on Sunday from a lofty perch of 151 after four victories last season.
Chatham Street Lad enjoyed big-race success at Cheltenham in December when landing the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup – and finished a creditable fourth in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on his return to the Cotswolds for the Festival in March.
The nine-year-old was last seen dominating his rivals in a Grade Three novice chase over the Munster National course and distance at the end of the March, and is reported in good shape for his reappearance.
Winters said: “He seems in good form and looks well in himself. The only little worry is that the two horses we ran at Tipperary the other day ran a bit average – that’s the only question.
“He’s done plenty of work, and his coat looks good. A bit of rain to keep the ground loose would be a help.
“I hope he’ll run a good race. It’s a great race to be taking part in, after the way the weather has been in the last week.
“I don’t think he’ll want anything for fitness, and he looks a picture.”
John Ryan could saddle as many as three runners, with the well-fancied Fairyhill Run and her stablemate Waitnsee potentially going to be joined by Dromore Lad, who was first reserve following the declaration stage.
The Templemore handler admitted to being frustrated after both Fairyhill Run and Waitnsee missed the cut for last month’s Kerry National at Listowel and is hoping compensation awaits for one or the other this weekend.
“The two mares are in cracking order, and there’s not a lot between them,” said Ryan.
“Fairyhill Run has won her last three and is a really exciting novice, while Waitnsee won a Grade Three in Cork earlier in the year, and I think she’s back to her best.
“It’s obviously not ideal having prepped them for Listowel, because we had to let them down and build them back up again, but I’m very sweet on the two of them.
“Hopefully Dromore Lad gets in as well. He won the Cork National last year and he could run really well if the ground is soft.”
Henry de Bromhead’s progressive novice Cavalry Master bids to make it four from four this season, while Pat Fahy’s Mister Fogpatches can be expected to improve from his comeback run at Listowel a couple of weeks ago.
Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott are set to saddle two runners each.
The former has declared Ontheropes and Sapphire Lady, and Elliott is represented by Aramax and The Big Lense.