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Friday 22 September 2017

Navan next up on Approach agenda

COUNTY Hurdle winner Final Approach had no trouble landing short odds in the McCarthy Insurance Group 60th Hurdle at Cork.

Willie Mullins' six-year-old also claimed the valuable MCR Hurdle last season and was far from disgraced when upped to Grade One class in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle behind Vole La Vedette last time out.

Sent off the 30/100 favourite, Final Approach never came out of second gear under Ruby Walsh to beat Little Green by two and three-quarter lengths.

Mullins (pictured right) said: "It will be hard to find another race as easy as this. He will go for a Graded race next, probably the Tara Hurdle at Navan."

Mullins and Walsh then doubled up with Simenon in the McCarthy Insurance Group 60th Maiden Hurdle.

Formerly with Andrew Balding on the level, where he finished second in the Sandown Classic Trial as a three-year-old, he had finished only fifth on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse.

He knew much more about the job this time, however, and barely came off the bridle to beat Party Rock, a son of Vinnie Roe, by a yawning 23 lengths.

Sent off the 4/6 favourite, Simenon looked a cut above his rivals and may be one for the festivals in the spring.

Kauto ranks with any of the greats -- Smith

Owner Clive Smith believes Kauto Star's achievements stack up well against those of any other jumping heavyweight in history.

Smith (pictured below) is still basking in the memory of the William Hill King George VI Chase on St Stephen's Day, when the 12-year-old gelding made history to become the first horse to win the Kempton classic five times.

In returning from a disappointing 2010-11 campaign in such style, discussions have been raised over Kauto Star's position in the all-time rankings.

Even on his highest Timeform rating, he fell some way short of Arkle, widely considered the finest ever after his three Cheltenham Gold Cups and other performances in the 1960s.

Arkle's stablemate Flyingbolt, who was never able to fulfil his incredible potential because of health problems, and Golden Miller, who won five Gold Cups and a Grand National in the 1930s, are others considered to be in the highest echelon.

"It has been very interesting reading about the comparisons with the greats of the past," Smith said. "Kauto Star's era is very, very competitive. Martin Pipe changed the way horses were trained and now they are far fitter."

Air Force One to launch long-distance mission

Air Force One is to be campaigned in long-distance chases following his first win for more than three-and-a-half years at Doncaster last week.

Trainer Charlie Mann had expected to call time on his stable stalwart's career but enjoyed a pleasant surprise as the 10-year-old stayed on to overpower Beneficial Reform.

That handicap chase was over three and a quarter miles and Mann may run the 2008 Grade One novice chase winner even further from now on.

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