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Flame burning likely path to Triumph

By Tom Peacock

John Quinn is leaning towards running Countrywide Flame in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The four-year-old finished third in a Grade One at Leopardstown on Sunday and was second to Hollow Tree in the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow.

Given his form at the highest level, Countrywide Flame is likely to be near enough top weight for the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle, which could force Quinn to run him in the Triumph on March 16.

“He's come back fine. It will be straight to Cheltenham for him now,” said the Malton-based handler.

“I'm going to enter him in the Fred Winter but he'll more than likely be just about top weight in that so he'll probably run in the Triumph.

“He was a bit gawky at the first couple of hurdles on Sunday, which is unlike him.

“I'm not saying he'd have won, but he threw at least a length away at the first and second hurdles and you can't do that in Grade Ones.

“The weather hadn't helped – we'd not been able to do any schooling with him beforehand.

“He's tough as teak and is as genuine as they come. He was one of the first off the bridle but was really coming back at the end.

“If they were to go a suicidal gallop in the Triumph he would be staying on better than anything up the hill – you never know what might happen.”

Meanwhile, Quinn was delighted with UAE Derby hope Red Duke after a spin at Southwell on Tuesday.

The Superlative Stakes winner, who will be the Malton handler's first runner at Meydan, worked in companion with his lead-horse.

A son of the American sire Hard Spun, Red Duke showed some consistent form in classy races last year before disappointing in the Dewhurst – although he was beaten just over four lengths.

“I took him to Southwell this morning and he worked over a mile with a lead horse,” Quinn said yesterday.

“We're looking at going to Dubai with him and I want all his serious work done before he gets over there.

“Once he gets to Dubai it will then just be a case of ticking over with him.

“He's going to run in the UAE Derby and he'll be my first runner out there.”

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