William Jarvis expects Chief Ironside to relish softer conditions as long as they do not become extreme for Tipperary’s Coolmore Stud Home of Champions Concorde Stakes.
Hardy battler Chief Ironside has not encountered anything approaching soft ground since his seasonal debut in April, when it was just on the easy side at Newbury.
The three-year-old has gone on to win his share of admirers in seven runs over the past six months, which culminated in Group Three placings at Goodwood and York’s high-profile August meetings.
Jarvis is pitching him in at the same level as he takes on the likes of home hopes Imaging and Psychedelic Funk in Sunday’s feature race on a card which always provides an intriguing mix of Flat and jumps.
The Newmarket trainer has given Chief Ironside a six-week break since his latest third to Lord Glitters on the Knavesmire.
“He’s in very good form and this looks like a nice opportunity for him,” Jarvis said.
“It looks like it’s going to be soft at the moment, but I’ve always been quite keen to get him running with a bit of give in the ground.
“Whether it is going to be too soft, I hope not.
“I don’t want to run him on extremes, but (jockey) Fran Berry does not seem to think the ground is going to be like that, and I think they have a couple of dry days forecast.”
Ireland has more often than not produced its own winner of the Concorde of late, so it will be a notable effort to wrest it away this time.
“Absolutely,” Jarvis added.
“He’s going great, and you wouldn’t send a horse all the way to Ireland unless you thought he had a very good each-way chance at least.”
There are three potentially informative Grade Three races over jumps too, and trainer Denis Cullen has a chance in both the Horse & Jockey Hotel Hurdle and Like A Butterfly Novice Chase – courtesy of owners Wicklow Bloodstock, who run Arctic Fire and The Last Marju.
Cullen is also keeping an eye on the ground for his novice chase hopeful especially.
“They’re both fit and very well, and we just hope we don’t get too much more rain,” said Cullen.
“The Last Marju will be better on better ground.
“But we are very pleased with him and the way he has progressed this season.”
The six-year-old earned his place in this company with two wins in his last three starts under Denis O’Regan.
“He has turned into a decent novice chaser,” added Cullen.
“This is a step-up again, but the two and a half miles was no problem last time. Hopes are high.”
They are too for Arctic Fire, who at nine has proved – in two recent runs after a season off – that he retains much of the ability which won him last year’s County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival when trained by Willie Mullins.
Cullen suspects he may be better over slightly further these days.
He said: “He’s just dropping back to two miles and I think maybe two and half is his best trip.
“(But) I’ve been delighted with him.”
The County Kildare trainer has mooted a possible switch to fences for Arctic Fire and concedes he will know more after Sunday.
“He jumped so well at Cork, so we did have a think about that (in case) he didn’t look like he was going to be competitive (over hurdles) at the top level.
“But we expect him to give a good account, and Denis (O’Regan) was very happy with him the other day.”