Gentlemansgame not certain to head to Cheltenham Festival

Mouse Morris has warned punters to “hold their powder” when it comes to backing the promising Gentlemansgame at the Cheltenham Festival.

Having just his second start under Rules, the five-year-old finished a creditable second to the impressive Gaillard Du Mesnil in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday.

As a result he is now among the favourites for next month’s Albert Bartlett, but even if he does make the journey to Cheltenham, Morris slightly favours the shorter Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at this stage.

“I was delighted with him, I really was,” said Morris.

“But whether he travels (to Cheltenham), we’ll have to see. I just don’t know yet.

“If he goes he’d probably run over two-five, as the three-mile race has a gruelling reputation. It can leave a mark.

“No one seems to know what is happening with the travelling yet, either.

“I certainly won’t be rushing him this season, he’s an out-and-out chaser. We’ll keep all options open, it’s just a bit early to commit to anything yet.

“He’d be more unlikely than likely, I think. I’d be holding my powder, that’s what I’d be advising them to do.”

Gold Cup-winning trainer Morris will still be represented at the Festival this season by Sams Profile in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

“If he’s sound on the day, he’ll go,” said Morris.

“It was good to see him win, he was good in the Galmoy.

“He’s already been to Cheltenham and run well, so we’ve no worries on that score.”

Sams Profile grabs Galmoy glory

Sams Profile successfully reverted to the smaller obstacles with a hard-fought victory in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.

The Mouse Morris-trained seven-year-old was narrowly beaten in a Grade One novice hurdle at the Punchestown Festival two years ago, but was not seen again until falling on his chasing bow at Thurles in November.

He ran with plenty of credit when third behind behind the exciting Monkfish at Fairyhouse nine days later – but feeling it was getting too late in the season to continue over fences, Morris decided to switch his charge back to hurdles for this Grade Two contest.

Given a patient ride by Phillip Enright, Sams Profile began to make significant inroads on the leaders from the home turn and held a narrow lead approaching the final flight.

A messy leap did him no favours, but Enright’s mount dug deep in a slow motion finish to hold off the rallying Diol Ker by half a length.

Paddy Power cut the winner to 16-1 from 66-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

Morris, who won the Galmoy Hurdle with his former Gold Cup hero War Of Attrition in 2010, said of Sams Profile: “He hasn’t been easy and fractured ribs at Thurles from the horrible fall he got and he ran with it afterwards.

Mouse Morris was delighted with the performance of Sams Profile
Mouse Morris was delighted with the performance of Sams Profile (PA)

“He bled when he got home after his Fairyhouse run and it was the vets who found it. He bruised his lungs and we gave him box rest.

“He is as tough as old boots and it was just one of those things in Thurles, but it got too late in the year (to continue novice chasing).

“He had a couple of good runs, but isn’t the luckiest horse in the world. The Stayers’ Hurdle will be pencilled in now.”

The trainer was keen to praise Enright, adding: “Being quite frank with you, I thought maybe he was a bit far back at the top of the hill, but you have to take it off to him – he is a cool dude.

“He was dead right and I was wrong.”

Acapella Bourgeois out to give connections back-to-back Thyestes victories

Acapella Bourgeois bids to provide his owners with back-to-back victories in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday.

The Willie Mullins-trained 11-year-old carries the colours of the Slaneyville Syndicate, who landed the prestigious handicap 12 months ago with the now-retired Total Recall.

Acapella Bourgeois could finish only sixth when well-fancied for last year’s renewal, since when he has won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse and finished second to his Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning stablemate Al Boum Photo at Tramore on New Year’s Day, just as he did last season.

The veteran must concede weight all round under champion jockey Paul Townend, who has sided with him over four of his stable companions.

Lar Byrne, who is part of the Slaneyville Syndicate along with members of his family, has enjoyed plenty of success as an owner, most notably with the tough-as-teak dual Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace.

He said: “We’re looking forward to Thursday. It’s a shame we won’t be able to be there, but we’ll all be watching on from home.

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“Acapella had a very good run in Tramore on New Year’s Day – finishing second to Al Boum Photo again. We were very happy with the run.

“He’s carrying top-weight, but he appears to be in very good form. He’s ticking the boxes, but it’s a big ask.

“He’s getting on in years, but we said the same about Total Recall last year and he went and won it as an an 11-year-old.

“It’s going to be tough, but he’s going into the race healthy and well and we’re hoping for the best.”

Mullins, who has saddled four of the last seven winners of the biggest race of the season at his local track, is also represented by Brahma Bull, Cabaret Queen, last year’s runner-up Class Conti and Saturnas.

Willie Mullins has a strong hand in the Thyestes Chase
Willie Mullins has a strong hand in the Thyestes Chase (Simon Cooper/PA)

Gordon Elliott declared six runners, with Alpha Des Obeaux, Roaring Bull, Dounikos, Coko Beach and Run Wild Fred joined by second reserve Aforementioned.

Other contenders include Henry de Bromhead’s Spyglass Hill and the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now.

The main supporting race is the Grade Two John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle, in which Mullins runs Bacardys, Burrows Saint, Scarpeta and Great White Shark. The latter is particularly interesting on her first competitive start since winning the Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

Mouse Morris is keeping his fingers crossed for a bold showing from Sams Profile, who reverts to hurdling following a couple of spins over fences since returning from a lengthy absence.

Sams Profile (right) chases home Reserve Tank at Punchestown
Sams Profile (right) chases home Reserve Tank at Punchestown (PA)

The seven-year-old was narrowly beaten in a Grade One novice hurdle at the 2019 Punchestown Festival, but was not seen again until falling on his chasing bow at Thurles in November.

He ran with plenty of credit when third behind behind the exciting Monkfish at Fairyhouse nine days later, after which he was found to be suffering from a minor injury.

Morris said: “It’s got too late in the season to be trying to win a beginners’ chase, so we thought we’d switch him back to hurdles.

“He ran a very good race at Fairyhouse, considering he had a fractured rib. He’d obviously picked that up in the fall at Thurles and we didn’t find it until after he ran the last day.

“We’ll see how we go on Thursday.”

‘Nice Christmas present’ for Mouse Morris as Get My Drift impresses at Leopardstown

Get My Drift got off the mark at the third attempt with a ready success in the ‘Join the With A 10 Euro Risk Free Bet’ Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Third in his first two races over jumps, the Mouse Morris-trained four-year-old went two places better as he saw off 18 rivals in promising fashion.

Micro Manage, the even-money favourite, made the running to the second-last flight where Hurricane Cliff and Get My Drift looked serious challengers.

Jody McGarvey asked Get My Drift (9-2) for his effort and between the last two hurdles and soon put the race to bed.

Gee Rex made good late headway to claim second place, two and a half lengths behind the winner. Micro Manage was three and three-quarter lengths away in third.

“He’s a nice horse and he jumps well. The better ground was a help to him,” said Morris.

“I was expecting to be second, but we’ll take everything. He ran well on bottomless ground last time.

“We’ll look for a winners of one now. He’ll be better with another year under his belt.

“That’s a nice Christmas present.”

After three placed efforts Wide Receiver opened his account over the smaller obstacles in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle.

El Barra set the early pace, but when he was headed before the third-last it looked a match between Wide Receiver and Decimation, both wearing the colours of Gigginstown House Stud.

Wide Receiver (3-1) proved the stronger and a fine jump at the final flight secured victory for Gordon Elliott’s charge.

Ridden by Jack Kennedy, the five-year-old went on to score by a length and a half. Snake Oil was eight lengths away in third place.

Wide Receiver was quoted at 40-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham with Betfair.

Kennedy said: “He did it well and I think riding him more forward today really suited him.

“He had some nice runs under his belt so it was great to get his head in front.”