BRENDAN DUKE reports all to be going well with Mister Benedictine as the in-form nine-year-old builds towards next week's Guinness Galway Hurdle at Ballybrit.
The trainer's charge is on a four-timer after a win at Ballinrobe and two follow-up successes at Kilbeggan.
He is a general 16/1 chance for the big race on Thursday week, on the fourth day of the Festival. Pollardstown-based Duke tweeted: "My Galway Hurdle hope Mister Benedictine cantered 9f under Alfie on the Old Vic woodchip gallop at the Curragh today. I was pleased with him."
Davy Russell will be offered the mount on Rebel Fitz after the partnership struck at Tipperary on Sunday. The Michael Winters-trained seven-year-old defeated Captain Cee Bee by a length and a half in the Grimes Hurdle to confirm his place in the summer highlight on August 2 -- as long as he is not punished too severely by the assessor. Winters said: "We'll go to Galway, but only if he doesn't get too much from a penalty.
"This was a great race to win and races help to settle him down a lot.
"He loved those conditions and is an ideal horse for this time of year, in that he can go on moderately soft ground and also on good ground.
"Davy gave him a peach of a ride but a lot of the work was done by Barry Geraghty and he'd have ridden him, but was claimed to ride The Real Article. Davy will keep the ride now in the Galway Hurdle if he wants it."
Back In Focus is likely to have another run over hurdles after he finished second on his debut for Willie Mullins at Tipperary on Sunday.
Owned by Graham Wylie, the seven-year-old won a Grade Two at Haydock on his first outing for Howard Johnson but never made it to the track for his new trainer in the last National Hunt season.
With the ground unseasonably soft, however, Mullins was able to get his new charge in action at the weekend.
Despite giving away weight to all of his rivals, he was only beaten just over two lengths in the Ballykisteen Hotel & Golf Resort Hurdle.
Although a chasing career beckons, Back In Focus is poised to be given another assignment over hurdles.
"I was very happy with him as he'd had a long time off," said Mullins.
"We ran him because the ground was nice and the conditions of the race suited him.
"He'll obviously be going novice chasing next season but I might just give him another run over hurdles, especially if the ground stays soft as he must have cut in the ground.
"He's an exciting prospect still."
Jim Bolger expects to make a decision on the next target for Dawn Approach in the next few weeks.
The impressive Coventry Stakes winner, a son of Bolger's Derby winner New Approach, holds entries in the Phoenix Stakes, the Futurity and the National Stakes while the Dewhurst has also been mooted.
Just like he did with New Approach, Bolger has sold a controlling share in the colt to Sheikh Mohammed, this time in the guise of Godolphin rather than Princess Haya of Jordan.
"He's very well, he's had an easy four-and-a-half weeks now since Ascot, so we're beginning to step it up now and we'll make some decision on him in the next three weeks or so," said Bolger.
"He came out of Ascot very well, he's very straightforward. He's hardy with a great constitution with good limbs. He ticks all the boxes."
Dawn Approach is 7/1 favourite for the Qipco 2000 Guineas with Stan James.