sport

Morning sore following Festival

Pat Fahy reports Morning Assembly to have returned home "very sore" from his run at the Punchestown Festival.

The Grade One-winning hurdler enjoyed an excellent novice campaign over fences, winning his first two chasing starts at Punchestown before being placed in the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown and the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

He was a hot favourite to end his season with victory in the Growise Champion Novice Chase but had to settle for third.

Fahey said: "He's well jarred after Punchestown and was very sore. We walked the track in the morning and they had watered, but while there was moisture on top, the ground was firm underneath.

"You could see coming up the straight he was hurting and he was holding his head up coming to the last (fence). He was in quite a bit of pain afterwards.

"It was a shame as I have never seen him as well as he was going into Punchestown, but the ground wasn't suitable for winter horses.

"The vet came to see him and thankfully his legs scanned clear. The vet suggested we kept him on the walker and give his legs chance to recover before we put him out in the field for the summer.

"He'll probably be let off in two and a half weeks and hopefully he'll be all right, but we'll never take a chance with him on that sort of ground again."

With Morning Assembly's injuries seemingly not serious, Fahy is dreaming of a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March.

"It's been a great season for him and I think he is better than what he showed in Cheltenham," said the trainer.

"He didn't settle too well, it was all new to him and I've no doubt he'll be better the next day he goes back there.

"I'd say the Gold Cup at Cheltenham will be his main target at the end of next season and he'd only go to Punchestown after that if the ground was naturally soft.

"I'm not sure where he'll start off the season. We'll have a chat with the owners over the summer and make a plan."