sport

Quito ready to Roque Punch

Quito De La Roque is reported to be back on top form and ready to mount a challenge for thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup on April 25.

Colm Murphy's charge was a gutsy winner of the JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal last November but finished only third behind subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Synchronised in the Lexus Chase at Christmas.

Quito De La Roque was forced to miss Cheltenham due to a sinus problem but Murphy has nursed him back to health and is busy priming him for the three-mile-one-furlong test.

"Quito De La Roque will run in the Punchestown Gold Cup and thankfully he is back in good form and seems very well at the moment," said County Wexford-based Murphy.

"He had a sinus problem and it would have been a rush trying to make Cheltenham, but he has been back in full work for a while now.

"He goes on any ground, but he wouldn't want it firm."

Captain Chris is potential rival for Quito De La Roque, with Philip Hobbs keen to make the trip across the Irish Sea.

The eight-year-old won the Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase at the meeting last year and he would be stepping back up in trip after finishing fourth in Cheltenham's Ryanair Chase last time.

His previous attempts at trips of three miles or more have yielded third place in the King George but he was pulled up early on in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham's January meeting.

"Captain Chris is on course for the Punchestown Gold Cup," said Hobbs.

"He won't run anywhere beforehand and is very likely to line up at Punchestown. He has been fine since his last run in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, but he does need to go right-handed.

"He jumped with more confidence at Cheltenham which was good to see."

Rubi Light finished one place behind Captain Chris at Cheltenham and he could take him on again over the longer trip.

He finished second in the Lexus for Robbie Hennessy and the trainer believes switch back up in trip should be in his favour.

"I wouldn't be concerned about tackling three miles again - the form of the Lexus Chase is working out well with Synchronised winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup," said Hennessy.

"Andrew (Lynch) came in after the Ryanair Chase and said maybe three miles will suit him better in Grade One company.

"They were just going a bit too quick for him down the back at Cheltenham and Andrew said they just had him out of his comfort zone.

"Rubi Light will run in the Punchestown Gold Cup if we get the ground, he would like it on the soft side. He has had 10 days off in the paddock since Cheltenham - he came home all right.

"We will probably start him off in the three-mile races next season and see how he gets on. We can always switch back to two and a half miles if we're not happy.

"He is still a big baby. He was the youngest horse in the Ryanair Chase and I would say another summer's grass under his belt will do him the world of good. He is something exciting to look forward to next year."