Coneygree is set to become the first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner since L’Escargot in 1975 to run in the Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase at Listowel on Wednesday week, September 13.
The 2015 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner heads an entry of 41 horses for the €175,000 event and will shoulder top-weight of 11st 10lbs, 6lbs clear of the next horse in the handicap, Shaneshill. Mark Bradstock’s ten-year-old would be running for the first time since taking third place behind Sizing John and Djakadam in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup at the Punchestown festival in late April. He is one of four British-trained entries and could be joined by Colin Tizzard’s Tempestatefloresco, Harry Fry’s Art Of Payroll and the Fergal O’Brien-trained Viva Steve. That trio have been allotted 10st 5lbs, 10st 1lb and 9st 10lbs respectively.
Shaneshill is one of 11 horses that ran in this summer’s TheTote.com Galway Plate engaged in the Guinness Kerry National. Runner-up to Balkos Des Flos at Ballybrit, Shaneshill is set to carry 11st 4lbs and is among a quintet of horses entered by Willie Mullins as he bids for a third win in the race and his first since Bothar Na won in 2006. The champion trainer could also run Arbre De Vie on 10st 10lbs. He finished sixth in the Galway Plate and then beat Shaneshill to win the At The Races Chase on the final day of the Galway festival.
Henry de Bromhead has also made five entries including Riviera Sun which beat the Tony Martin-trained Phil’s Magic, winner of the Midlands National at Kilbeggan in July, to win the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase last month. The pair have been allotted 9st 1lb and 9st 2lbs respectively at this stage. De Bromhead also has Stellar Notion on 10st 2lbs, Heron Heights on 9st 11lbs and On Fiddlers Green with 9st 10lbs.
Wrath Of Titans gave Gordon Elliott his first success in the Guinness Kerry National last year and the County Meath trainer has four horses to choose from this time. A Toi Phil, fourth in the Galway Plate, has been handed 10st 11lbs while Potters Point, an easy winner at Tramore last time out, has 9st 13lbs and the runaway Perth winner Mountain King has 9st 9lbs.
Joseph O’Brien has made three entries headed by his Galway Plate third Slowmotion on 10st 5lbs and the Killarney winner Arkwrisht, which has yet to run in a handicap chase, on 9st 5lbs. Ellmarie Holden looks to hold a strong hand with her BoyleSports Irish Grand National third Abolitionist (10st 6lbs) and recent Tramore winner Sir Jack Yeats (9st 5lbs) entered up.
Jessica Harrington could rely on Sandymount Duke (11st 3lbs), fifth in the Galway Plate, while Charles Byrnes, a winner with Alfa Beat in 2010, has both his Galway Plate seventh Shanpallas (10st) and the novice Sea Light (9st 2lbs) in the mix. Noel Meade’s Road To Riches, third to Coneygree in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup, has been allotted 11st.
Andrew Shaw, National Hunt Handicapper, said: “Last year’s Guinness Kerry National was very strong and this year’s renewal looks better again. The race is going up in stature and to have a previous Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in Coneygree adds to the intrigue. The quality of this year’s race is emphasised by the fact that the last five winners were rated 133 or less and it looks like a rating of 133 will not be sufficient to get a run this time.”
Listowel’s Chairman David Fitzmaurice, said: “We are delighted to see so many National Hunt stars entered for our flagship race, the €175,000 Guinness Kerry National. It’s a race that always produces good horses to watch for the season ahead. Our seven-day festival starts this Sunday, September 10 and we have a great week of racing, fashionand entertainment planned for racegoers.”