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Flat season off and running with Naas curtain-raiser

By Keith Hamer

Ireland's Flat season kicks off at Naas on Sunday, with one of the success stories of last season, Creggs Pipes, in line to run in the feature Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes.

Having begun last season with a rating of 77, the mare won four on the bounce and was not disgraced in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.

Creggs Pipes will find life tougher this term off a mark of 105, but a liking for soft ground will certainly stand her in good stead this weekend.

"She's having to start at a different level this year," said trainer Andrew Slattery.

"She's working super, is in great nick and has had her wind done over the summer, so I'm hoping there's a big of improvement there still.

"We'll just need to check on Friday that her cycle is OK as it caught us out early last season.

"She won't be out of place. She's got her ground and is on the top of her game."

Creggs Pipes is one of 18 entered for the Group Three, which include Aidan O'Brien's Somehow, the Roger Varian-trained Dawn Of Hope and Czabo from Mick Channon's yard.

Onenightidreamed could aim to repeat his win in the Tote Irish Lincolnshire as he runs under Fozzy Stack's name for the first time since taking over the training licence from his father, Tommy.

He has joint-top weight along with Sruthan, while Ger Lyons has two towards the top of the weights in Brendan Brackan and Sea Wolf.

Sikandarabad, Spring Offensive, Mount Tahan and Glengarry are others to note.

Naas will be staging the traditional Irish Flat curtain-raiser as the Curragh is being redeveloped.

Edwulf was expected back home at Joseph O'Brien's stables in County Kilkenny on Tuesday evening after he was fit enough to travel following his health scare at the Cheltenham Festival.

The eight-year-old went badly wrong after jumping the final fence in the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase when he looked likely to finish second to Tiger Roll.

He was pulled up by jockey Derek O'Connor and then collapsed.

The next race was delayed by 10 minutes as he was being treated and Edwulf was eventually moved off the course while still being looked at, before being loaded into the horse ambulance.

Edwulf was taken to the Three Counties Equine Hospital, in nearby Tewkesbury, where he appears to have made a full recovery.

"He's travelling back home today and all's good," O'Brien told Press Association Sport.

"I haven't spoken to the vets there recently, but basically he ran out of oxygen. It affected his heart and he lost all his coordination.

"I think that is what happened, as far as we know.

"He's absolutely perfect now again. It's great," he added.

"He'll have a good, long break. He'll go out in the paddock and we won't decide for some time whether he will go racing again or not."

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