Marina might need it - Griffin
Eoin Griffin has offered his gratitude to Fairyhouse for the rescheduling of the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase - but warns his stable star Glencove Marina has not enjoyed an ideal preparation.
Griffin, who trains at Slieverue, County Kilkenny, suffered from the snow which has been playing havoc with Irish racing and caused the Grade One to be abandoned three times from its usual home.
Eight will face the starter and while British contenders The Listener and The Nightingale were not declared, the field still includes the classy Tranquil Sea and Cooldine. But Glencove Marina will not be out of place, having joined Griffin after an injury-hit spell with Willie Mullins and built upon an ordinary reappearance by beating Notre Pere in the Thurles Chase.
Griffin said: "We are delighted to get going again, it looked like it was in doubt for some time but full marks to the racecourse and the authorities to get it back on. I hope he can run a good race. I think we were hit worse than many by the snow and it caused him to miss a couple of important pieces of work.
"He never missed a day's exercise, as I have a woodchip and Polytrack at home, but we were planning to take him for a couple of gallops away from home and couldn't do it. I'd be a little bit anxious he was one bit short, but hopefully it's enough."
Edward O'Grady's Tranquil Sea is an expert over the two-and-a-half-mile trip and got off the mark this term in positive style by taking the Clonmel Oil Chase.
O'Grady said: "Horse Racing Ireland, the courses and the sponsors have been fantastic - we're all singing from the same hymnsheet really. We haven't had too many problems with the snow - more the frost, and it has been down to minus 15C. Everyone has worked very hard, harrowing the gallops to make sure they are all right. It's been a terrible thing.
"We were lucky to get a run into Tranquil Sea at Clonmel as we've been messed about badly, but he seems in good form and is entitled to run well."
Mullins has not been able to get a pipe-opener into either J'Y Vole or Cooldine.
Of Cooldine, who was fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and third at Punchestown, he said: "He needs to get going. It's a bit close to Christmas and I thought a lot about that, but he'll take his chance. He's well but he might just need the run and the trip might be a bit short for him as well."