Pimpernel primed for Festival bid

Fahey’s Grade Three winner has Supreme and County options.

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Peter Fahey reports Soviet Pimpernel firmly on course for next week’s Cheltenham Festival, following a pleasing post-racing workout at Leopardstown.

The five-year-old has not been seen in competitive action since impressing with victory in a Grade Three event at Limerick over Christmas, having previously been narrowly beaten by Quel Destin at Cheltenham.

Fahey is delighted with his star youngster as he prepares for his return to the Cotswolds – but whether he contests the curtain-raising Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, or switches to handicap company for the County Hurdle on Friday week, has yet to be decided.

“He worked after racing in Leopardstown on Monday – Kevin Sexton rode him, and we were delighted with how it went,” said the Kildare-based trainer.

“He’ll be left in the Supreme Novices’ at the confirmation stage (on Wednesday). He’s also in the County Hurdle, so we’ll just see what way both races are shaping up later in the week and decide which way we’re going to go.

“We’d probably be leaning towards the Supreme at this stage. The only thing that puts me off the County Hurdle is he hasn’t much experience for a big handicap like that, but we’ll see.

“He’s been to Cheltenham and run well before, so we know he’s able to travel over there and run well.

“I think he’ll run a big race – whichever race he runs in.”

Soviet Pimpernel could be joined on the trip across the Irish Sea by his veteran stable companion Peregrine Run.

The 16-time winner has enjoyed a winter break since finishing last of five behind Douvan in November’s Clonmel Oil Chase, but could return in the Glenfarclas Chase before a possible tilt at the Grand National at Aintree.

Fahey added: “Peregrine Run jumped a few fences in Leopardstown on Monday and jumped well. The aim is the banks (cross country) race next week, so long as we’re happy with the ground.

“It sounds as though the ground is drying out – and as long as the ground is good to soft, we’ll probably run him.

“Ideally we’d like to get him qualified for the Grand National, so he needs to run in either the banks race or a race at Down Royal.

“He’s in good form. It would be good to get him qualified for the National if we can – but if we can’t, it won’t be the end of the world, and he’ll still have a good summer.”

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