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Apache can take a scalp on return at Down Royal

By Ron McKnight

Top trainer Noel Meade has confirmed that Apache Stronghold will make his comeback in the Grade 1 JNWine.com Champion Chase at the Down Royal Festival on November 5.

The son of former St Leger king Milan is a five-time winner for the Belfast-based Hunt family - including a Grade 1 Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February 2015 - but hasn't raced since finishing third to Valseur Lido at Punchestown in April last year.

Navan trainer Meade believes Apache Stronghold is ready to return at the Maze where he is already a dual course winner having won his bumper at the 2012 festival and opened his account over fences in a beginners chase at the 2014 festival.

Meade said of the eight-year-old: "The plan is to enter him in the Nicholson Chase at Down Royal. I'll also enter Mrs Hunt's Monksland for both the big race and the novice chase."

Apache Stronghold has competed at the highest level over fences, including a narrow second to Don Poli in a novice chase at Leopardstown in 2014.

Meade will finalise the running plans closer to the time as Road To Riches, owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud operation, is also an intended entrant having won the contest in 2014 prior to finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following spring.

Snow Falcon, another top-class member of the Hunt family's string trained by Meade, won the finale of the Listowel Festival on the flat last weekend to complete a hat-trick, with the trainer now considering the November Handicap at Leopardstown.

Belfast Telegraph

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