Prague ambition for McCormack
JOCKEY Colm McCormack travels to Prague today for his first ride in the 127 th Velka Pardubicka at Pardubice racecourse. McCormack, who rides for the likes of Dianne Sayer, Rebecca Menzies and Ken Slack from his Saltburn base in North Yorkshire, will team up with his old friend Guillaume Macaire, the trainer of Songe D’Estruval.
The 11-year-old has been supplemented to run alongside stablemate Virtus D’Estruval, which will be ridden by Jan Faltejsek. Josef Vana, now 65 and who has won the race eight times, rides Ange Guardian, whom he trains himself.
McCormack has nothing like that experience to call up, admitting: “It’s my first ride in the race and I haven’t walked the course yet, I’ve only seen it on TV. Guillaume has had runners before, but none since 2001, I think. He supplemented my horse, but Jan’s was always going to run.
“When I got the call I couldn’t turn it down, I’ve probably missed a couple of rides at Kelso, but this is a good opportunity.”
Urgent De Gregaine, a winner over the cross-country course at Cheltenham in January, represents Emmanuel Clayeux and Felix de Giles.
Meanwhile, star mare Apple’s Jade could make her seasonal reappearance in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on November 12.
The five-year-old won Grade One events at Aintree and Punchestown in the spring of 2016, when trained by Willie Mullins, but was one of the most high-profile horses to leave the champion trainer last autumn following a well-publicised split with Gigginstown House Stud.
She has won three of her six starts since joining Gordon Elliott, claiming the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse, the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
A Toi Phil is set to be aimed at a Grade Two chase for second-season novices at Down Royal on November 4.
Last season’s Lexus Chase winner Outlander is likely to contest the JNwine.com Champion Chase on the same afternoon.
Death Duty survived a final-fence blunder to make a winning chasing debut at Tipperary last Sunday and is set for an imminent step up in class. “He’ll probably go to the Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown next month and then go to the Drinmore at Fairyhouse from there, all being well,” said Elliott.
The Cullentra handler confirmed last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero Labaik “probably won’t get to run this season” as he continues to recover from injury.