Nicky Richards is looking forward to another Irish jaunt with stable stalwart Simply Ned, who runs in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown.
While he may have recently turned 12, Simply Ned arguably produced the best performance of his career last time out when reeling in Footpad to win over the same two miles and one furlong he faces here.
That was his fifth run in the Christmas feature and he has never been out of the first three, while he was second in the Dublin Chase 12 months ago.
“He’s there and ready for action – he’s come out of the Paddy Power race grand and everyone knows he’s a veteran now, but he’s a hardy, tough old horse,” said Richards.
“He’s done bits and bobs and we’re well happy with him – he did a nice bit of work on Saturday and we’ve sort of been sticking to the same routine with him. He’s in grand fettle and he’ll beat more than beat him as he always does.”
While Richards is not setting out his stall for the Cheltenham Festival like so many, the fact plenty of two-milers might choose to dodge Altior and run in the Ryanair may see him line up.
“He’s just the sort of horse who seems to keep his form very well in the first half of the season. Even in his younger days his form seemed to tail off in the second half and I’m not ruling out Cheltenham, but we’ll see how he is after Saturday, get that out of the way and take it from there,” he said.
“There’s basically only one race for him at Cheltenham and it’s a very stiff ask taking on Altior, who is as good as we’ve seen for a very long time.
“However, a lot of the other big guns are looking for an escape route by not taking him on in the Ryanair Chase.”
Despite his excellent record in Ireland and beating Footpad last month, Simply Ned can still be backed at 8-1 with Paddy Power this weekend.
“I don’t know if he’s been underestimated – we don’t ever shout or brag about our horses,” said Richards.
“They do the talking and he certainly has. He’s been the most consistent animal and won twice over there and he has nothing to prove and we’re having a lot of fun.”