Roque ready for Cheltenham rehearsal
Quito De La Roque will bid to enhance his Cheltenham Festival credentials in the Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan tomorrow.
The seven-year-old was narrowly beaten into second in a Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas and had no trouble in going one place better at Naas last month.
His trainer, Colm Murphy, is confident the testing conditions he faces this weekend will not prove a problem and he hopes he can give another good account before a possible trip to Prestbury Park.
"He's good and came out of his win at Naas really well," said Murphy.
"We've freshened him up and we're happy with him and he won't mind the trip or the ground on Sunday (tomorrow).
"It will tell us a lot more about him. He's in the RSA Chase and the four miler (National Hunt Chase) at Cheltenham and I guess we can make a decision on where we go after the weekend."
Quito De La Roque faces just five rivals this weekend in Royal De La Thinte, Ballymak, Bronte Bay, Slippers Percy and The Hurl.
Whatever happens in tomorrow's Ladbrokes.com Boyne Hurdle, Murphy's Voler La Vedette will not run in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham. Her trainer is instead eyeing up a trip to the Punchestown Festival in May.
Murphy said: "We've decided not to go to Cheltenham. She got a little bit revved-up over there last year so we'll stay at home and I'd imagine she'll end up at Punchestown."
Voler La Vedette won as she liked on her seasonal reappearance at Punchestown in October but has since found life tougher against the likes of Solwhit and Hurricane Fly.
She steps down in class, but back up in trip, this weekend, and Murphy expects a good run.
"It's a step up to two miles and five (furlongs) but hopefully she'll handle it all right and she won't mind the heavy ground," said Murphy.
Perhaps the biggest rival to Voler La Vedette is the Paul Nolan-trained Shinrock Paddy.
The seven-year-old gelding won in style on his latest appearance at Naas, but Nolan is wary of the threat posed by Murphy's mare.
"The trip looks ideal for him and he's won on the track before," said Nolan.
"On ratings you'd have to say Voler La Vedette will take a lot of beating, but our fellow is in good form and very rarely runs a bad race."
Another interesting contender is Berties Dream, who gave his trainer Paul Gilligan a memorable first Cheltenham Festival success in last season's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.