Pearl heading for Scottish Champion

McConnell eyes Ayr after fine comeback run

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Pearl Of The West has the Scottish Champion Hurdle as her aim after an encouraging run at Dundalk.

John McConnell’s mare last ran over hurdles at Cheltenham in October, when she beat Alan King’s Redicean.

The five-year-old returned from a five-month break to outrun her odds on the all-weather, finishing second in a mile-and-a-half handicap.

McConnell said: “She ran on Friday at Dundalk and ran a really nice race. It was a lovely comeback run and she should improve from it.

“The plan for her now is to go for the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in two weeks. It’s a handicap, so she should have a nice weight in it.”

McConnell is hoping conditions will suit too.

“She should get her ground, and going left-handed on a flat track is something she should enjoy as well,” he added.

“I think she is entitled to go for that race anyway, and we’ll see how she is after that.

“I’d say we’ll mix between the Flat and hurdles for the summer. I’d love to get some black type of some form or another with her, but a lot depends on what happens in Ayr.”

McConnell’s Hannon will head to Fairyhouse after perhaps finding the ground too soft in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.

“He is fine since Cheltenham. We were kind of disappointed with his run, but nothing really came to light to be honest,” said the County Meath trainer.

“The ground probably changed significantly on the morning of the race, so that could have been a factor.

“His first run before I ever had him was on very quick ground, and he ran well. Both his runs for me were on goodish ground.

“The ground on the morning of the Gold Cup wasn’t too bad – but we got an awful lot of rain around 11 o’clock, and it deflated us a bit.

“Nothing else came to light physically, so we just put it down to the ground.

“We’ll just put a line through it, and he will more than likely run in the Grade Two (Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle) at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.”

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