Our Duke (left) and Presenting Percy jump the last in the 2018 Red Mills Chase
Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy heads an initial entry of eight for the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park this Saturday.
Following his victorious return to action in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle last month, after which he received one of the best receptions given to any horse anywhere this season, the Pat Kelly-trained Presenting Percy will be returning to fences for the first time since his impressive success in last season’s RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
As a novice chaser last year Pat Kelly’s charge was just touched off by Our Duke in this race before going to strike at Cheltenham and Saturday’s expected outing at Gowran Park will see the eight-year-old follow a familiar path.
Presenting Percy is currently as low as 3/1 favourite for the Gold Cup where he will be bidding to win at the Cheltenham Festival for the third year in succession.
"I spoke to Pat this morning and he is very happy with Presenting Percy," Philip Reynolds, owner of Presenting Percy reported today.
"He came out of the Galmoy Hurdle very well and has improved from that. Pat is happy with where he has him now and he has a measure to go on because we were in exactly the same place last year targeting the same race this weekend.
"Speaking to Pat he told me he was every bit as happy as he was this time last year. Of Presenting Percy's last five runs four of them will have come at Gowran Park so he has kind of made Gowran his home. It will be nice to get him back there and back over fences as well.
"It would be great to see him win but it is not going to be the end of the world. A bit like last year we will be going there hopeful rather than confident but it is a race that should put him spot on for what will hopefully be a race in three and a half weeks or so."
Reflecting on the atmosphere at Gowran Park last month, Reynolds added: "When you hear Davy Russell say 'It's days like this that we ride for' on a Thursday in Gowran Park that really sums up what a reception it was. It was unbelievable. Presenting Percy was even clapped out of the parade ring. That doesn't happen often.
Among Presenting Percy’s opponents on Saturday is last year’s Gold Cup third Anibale Fly who has been restricted to just one run this season. Another possible runner for owner J.P. McManus is Joseph O’Brien’s Edwulf who is searching for his first win since last year’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Willie Mullins has entered the talented Killultagh Vic and the prolific Bachasson while Henry de Bromhead has already confirmed that Monalee will take his chance on Saturday. The line up is completed by the Gordon Elliott duo of Alpha Des Obeaux, a runner-up in last month’s Thyestes Chase, and A Toi Phil.
Last year’s winner Forge Meadow heads the entries for the Red Mills Trial Hurdle which has also attracted last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas.
The Gordon Elliott-trained grey will be bidding for his first win since that Cheltenham victory. Elliott could also field the four-year-old Coeur Sublime who fell when holding every chance in a Grade 2 at Leopardstown at Christmas.
“As usual we’ll just see how the horses are later in the week before deciding what to run,” said Elliott.
“It’s never easy for those good juveniles when they have to take on their elders and Farclas has had to take on Apple’s Jade in two of his races this season but this looks a potentially nice opportunity for him.”
“We’re anxious to get a run into Coeur Sublime before Cheltenham and there aren’t too many options left for him which is why we’ve put him in here. I’ve been happy with him over the last few weeks."
The first on a seven race card at Gowran Park is due off at 1.25pm and the ground is currently yielding to soft, soft in places. For further information ahead of Saturday's fixture see www.gowranpark.ie.