Peregrine Run bids to make it third time lucky when he goes for glory in the Tote Galway Plate at the Ballybrit course.
Peter Fahey’s stable stalwart was beaten only four lengths when consigned to fourth place in the closing stages 12 months ago.
That was an improvement on his never-threatening ninth in 2018, and the 10-year-old returns on Wednesday for another crack at the valuable handicap chase – with a Grade Three chase success sandwiched by two runs on the Flat this season.
“He seems in great form,” said the County Kildare trainer.
“It’s a very competitive race again – but it’s great the ground is drying out for him.
“He ran a good race last year when the rain came. He handled the course well and he’s every bit in good a form this year. We’re hoping for a big run.
“He had a couple of runs on the Flat to sharpen him up and freshen him up. He had a nice run last time that has put him spot on.”
Peregrine Run is one of three horses sharing top weight of 11st 10lb along with Jett and The Storyteller.
The former is trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington but owned by Robert Waley-Cohen, former chairman of Cheltenham racecourse.
He is simply delighted for the horse to be running after a frustrating few months for everyone.
“It’s been a bit of a drawn-out saga, because we bought the horse in the spring with the idea of running him in the Grand National at Aintree,” said Waley-Cohen.
“He was due to carry 10st 12lb or 10st 13lb, but unfortunately coronavirus put paid to that.
“After that, we had a back-up plan to run in France, but then racing in France was called off as well – and consequently we’ve ended up running at Galway.
“The big shame is my son Sam can’t go and ride him because of the quarantine rules in place in Ireland. But Robbie Power knows the horse well, and I’m sure he’ll have full confidence in him.
“He does have a lot of weight, and he’s 20-1 for a reason, but he does go well fresh.
“Hopefully he’ll run a good race.”
Willie Mullins saddles six runners – Easy Game, Robin Des Foret, Royal Rendezvous, Cabaret Queen, Livelovelaugh and Blazer – as he seeks to lift this prestigious prize for only a second time.
His assistant David Casey summed up their chances.
“Royal Rendezvous was a decent novice last season. He won well in Naas, where he battled well to win,” he said.
“He’s by King’s Theatre, so he should go on the nice ground. Hopefully there’s still some improvement left in him.
“Easy Game won his novice in Leopardstown, then he ran Faugheen close in a Grade One, so he has form at the top level. He’s a previous course winner, so that will suit him.
“Robin Des Foret has been competitive in a lot of good handicaps.”
Of the remainder of the Mullins battalion, Casey added: “Cabaret Queen won the Munster National well last year and was running well in Leopardstown (in the Paddy Power Chase) when she fell.
“She made a bad mistake at Cheltenham (in the Kim Muir), but on her best form she could have a squeak.
“Livelovelaugh ran well at Cheltenham (in the Stable Plate Handicap Chase) but was badly hampered. He was second in the Leopardstown Chase and should go in the ground. He has decent form and could run well.
“Blazer has been competitive in those big handicaps – so if he runs his race again he could get involved.”
Blazer is one of four contenders wearing the colours of powerful owner J P McManus – whose racing manager Frank Berry said: “He has been disappointing. He needs to get back to form.”
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Early Doors, Aidan Howard’s Winter Escape and The Big Lense, one of five from the Gordon Elliott stable, complete the McManus team.
“Early Doors is a maiden over fences. He lacks a bit of experience, but he’s in good form,” said Berry.
“On his day Winter Escape is quite good. He’s in good form, and we’re hoping for a good run.
“It looked like The Big Lense was running a good race at Kilbeggan, but he got a bit of interference after the last. He won’t mind the nice ground.
“You need a lot of luck round there. They all go there in good nick, and we’re hoping for the best.”