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Cooper is seeking a smoother plasterer

AS THE flat season reaches it's twilight stages for this year, the jumping action is only just kicking off and in addition to the likes of Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti making their chasing debuts at Chepstow tomorrow, next week's entries for Punchestown are also worth catching up with.

The home of Irish jump racing returns for its opening two-day meeting of the winter next Wednesday and Thursday and on day two Tom Cooper is set to give a seasonal debut to his stable star Forpadydeplasterer.

Cooper's nine-year-old former Arkle Chase winner at Cheltenham hasn't been seen in competitive action since running below his best in the King George at Kempton back in January, but seemingly cured of his ailments now he is set to kick off his season in the Grade 3 2m7f conditions chase.

Kerry handler Cooper said yesterday: "Forpady schooled and worked very well at Tipperary racecourse this morning and please God we are looking forward to having him back to his old form."

He added: "Punchestown is the target and the intention is to run unless the ground gets very heavy."

The ground was earlier today described as soft, yielding to soft in places, with the County Kildare track avoiding most of yesterday's rainfall.

Also among the entries for Thursday's Grade Three Buck House Novice Chase are the highly rated hurdlers Rathlin and Shinrock Paddy who would be having their first run over fences against previous winners Lucky William and De Valira.

Meanwhile, on the flat, most roads lead to Ascot's lucrative Champions Day next weekend where Irish interest is sure to be high for the big races. One who looks certain to make the trip is John Oxx's Doncaster Cup winner Saddler's Rock, who is set to be supplemented for the £200,000 Long Distance Cup.

The progressive three-year-old would look to have all the hallmarks of a potential Royal Ascot Gold Cup horse for next season if he continues his rapid progression and connections will wait until the horse works on Monday morning to determine whether or not to pay the £18,000 late entry fee.

"We'll work him on Monday morning and if the horse pleases us and the weather forecast is favourable it is our intention to supplement him," revealed Oxx.

"It's unfortunate we didn't enter him at the time, but he's improved a great deal since then and I would think he'd be nearly favourite on the day. He wouldn't want it soft though."

Also across the water, Kieren Fallon kept up his pursuit of Paul Hanagan with a double at Wolverhampton yesterday evening.

Fallon now trails last year's champion by just seven as Hanagan had a frustrating afternoon at Ayr that yielded no winners from two rides with the meeting then abandoned due to unsafe ground after the third race.

Fallon returns to Wolverhampton this evening for four rides after he was due to take four at this afternoon's meeting at York, while tomorrow he has four engagements at Newmarket and three at Wolverhampton in the evening.

Hanagan has just the one ride at York but then heads to Wolverhampton for seven, while tomorrow sees him with just three rides, one at York and two at Wolverhampton.