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Apache on Punchestown trail

Noel Meade has given Apache Stronghold the green light for the Punchestown Festival.

The seven-year-old faces another clash with impressive RSA winner Don Poli in the Growise Novice Chase over an extended three miles.

Apache Stronghold was beaten three lengths by Don Poli when they met at Christmas over three miles so Meade brought his stable star back down in trip and it paid off when he beat Valseur Lido in the Flogas Novice Chase.

He confirmed form with that rival at Cheltenham but both were blown away behind Vautour.

Apache Stronghold then ran in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse but he fell before the race began in earnest.

"Apache Stronghold is OK after Fairyhouse and he's going to run in the Growise Champion Novice Chase - he's a good horse who has never disgraced himself yet," said Meade.

A total of 12 novices stood their ground with no major withdrawals. Gilgamboa and Vroum Vroum Mag were two who did not go to Cheltenham and may take the plunge.

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