Young trainer Gearoid O’Loughlin is gearing up for a potentially big day at Punchestown on Sunday where he will field strong contenders for both of the day’s main events with Space Cadet set to represent him in the featured €100,000 BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase.
Space Cadet is among 23 entries for the three and a half mile contest in which he finished fourth two years ago. The ten-year-old pulled up in the Welsh National last time but would be among the leading contenders if returning to the form of his fine fourth in the Troytown Chase at Navan in November.
“Space Cadet is in great form. He didn’t travel over that well to Chepstow so we are happy to put a line through that Welsh National run and we’re looking forward to Sunday. He’s going to have a lovely weight and he’s run well in the race before and this is the sort of test that should bring out the best in him,” said the trainer.
Gordon Elliott has won this race for the last two years and he has a team of eight engaged this time around with his entry headed by the Paddy Power Chase hero Roaring Bull and the impressive Cork winner Minella Till Dawn.
Top weight in Sunday’s €100,000 contest is the 2018 Aintree Grand National runner-up Pleasant Company, while the in form trainer James Nash could be represented by Forza Milan.
O’Loughlin, who sent his first winner 13 months ago and runs owner Chris Jones’s pre-training base at Killeen Glebe nearing Dunsany in Co Meath, also hopes to field the exciting Cedarwood Road in Sunday’s Listed I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle for which eleven horses have been entered.
Cedarwood Road emerged as one of this season’s most exciting novices when winning a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival by an impressive eleven lengths.
“He’s in good form and worked well this morning so all being well he will run on Sunday. For us it’s great to have a horse like him in the yard. It’s what you get up for in the morning and there’s a great buzz around the yard at the moment as he’s a horse we really like. This is going to be step up in class for him but we’re really looking forward to running him,” commented O’Loughlin.
Other entries for this race including the promising Front View. Joseph O’Brien’s charge won a bumper at last season’s Punchestown Festival and chased home Envoi Allen at Down Royal on his first run of the season before defeating the high class Uhtred in a Cork maiden hurdle in November. The Jessica Harrington-trained Exit Poll may also make the step up in class following his Fairyhouse success recently.
Cheltenham Festival clues will be on offer in the opening P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase in which Enda Bolger has included specialists in this sphere Josies Orders and Yanworth.
A seven race card on Sunday is due to start at 1.45pm and the ground at Punchestown is currently described as yielding.