CHELTENHAM Festival hero City Island may bid to get his season back on track at Punchestown this weekend.
The seven-year-old saw off the high-class Champ when winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park last March and made his highly-anticipated debut over fences at Leopardstown over the festive period.
However, a mistake at the second obstacle set the tone for a disappointing display and he was eventually pulled up by Mark Walsh.
Trainer Martin Brassil reports his stable star none the worse for the experience, and hopes he can show his true colours if given the green light to run in the Grade 3 Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown.
“He’s good and he’s going to get an entry in the Grade 3 novice chase at Punchestown on Sunday,” said the Dunmurray-based handler.
“Everyone has a different reason for why he ran like he did over Christmas.I’ve been happy enough with him since, anyway.”
Longhouse Poet could bid to provide Brassil with a back-to-back Ballymore wins at Cheltenham, after delighting his trainer with a fine effort to finish third at Naas on Sunday.
A winner at Navan last month, the promising six-year-old was fancied to run well in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle and lived up to those expectations, without threatening to trouble the impressive winner Envoi Allen.
“I was delighted with him – I thought he ran a very good race,” said Brassil. “It was his first run in a graded race, and he was taking on more experienced horses. The winner obviously looks very good, so I think we’ve got to be happy with how our fellow ran.
“We’ll see how he comes out of it, because he had a hard enough race. We’ll probably enter him for the two-mile-six Grade 1 at Leopardstown (at the Dublin Racing Festival), but he could go straight for the Ballymore in Cheltenham.
“He wouldn’t have any problem staying, and I’d say he could be a better horse when he has more horses around him too.”