Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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EDDIE HARTY is eyeing the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup or Ryanair Chase with Coney Island who returned from a lengthy injury-enforced lay-off to win at the Christmas Meeting at Ascot.
The Ascot win was the seven-year-olds first run for almost a year and the nine length victory in a two miles and five furlong graduation chase confirmed he has maintained the form shown in a brief novice campaign.
The JP McManus-owned gelding had three starts over fences as a novice, highlighted by an emphatic victory in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse in early December, 2016.
The Fairyhouse win was bookended by second places at Punchestown and then at Leopardstown, where he finished second to Our Duke in a Grade 1 at what proved to be his last start of the campaign before injury intervened.
“I was delighted with Coney Island at Ascot. He has come out of it fit and well, and is ready to go again,” Harty said.
“He has been entered for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase, and will also have entries in the Irish Gold Cup and the Ascot Chase.
“We will go for one of those two and then make a decision about which race to aim for at Cheltenham after that.
“I think the Gold Cup picture looks as much as it did before Christmas. Might Bite did nothing wrong, Sizing John did, but that might have been down to the proximity of his prep race, and nothing else really came to the fore. My fella has shortened up in the betting after Ascot, but it was only a graduation chase. Touch wood and all being well, we will be able to decide where we are going after his prep run.
“I don’t have any concerns about his stamina, but it would have been stupid not to put him in the Gold Cup and the Ryanair as we are still nine weeks out from Cheltenham and can finalise plans nearer the time.”
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