Cheltenham Festival hero City Island has been pencilled in to make his debut over fences at Leopardstown later this month.
The six-year-old provided Grand National-winning trainer Martin Brassil with his first success at the showpiece meeting at Prestbury Park when powering up the hill to beat the Nicky Henderson-trained Champ in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
That form has been well advertised since, with the runner-up going on to land a Grade One at Aintree and win each of his two starts over fences to date – most recently a Grade Two at Newbury last week.
City Island’s fencing bow has been delayed on account of the prevailing testing conditions in Ireland – but Brassil hopes to see his stable strut his stuff in a beginners’ chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival.
“We’re hoping to run on December 27, so long as we get a bit of nice ground,” said the Dunmurray-based trainer.
“He’s in good form. Last year we had a very dry winter and the ground was always good to yielding at worst, whereas this year we seem to have had heavy ground everywhere and he’s never run on that, so we’ve just been waiting for some nice ground.
“We’re very happy with him and we’re looking forward to getting him started.”
City Island is a best-priced 20-1 for the Arkle Trophy back at Cheltenham in March. He is 16-1 for the JLT Novices’ Chase and 25-1 for the RSA Chase.