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Last Updated: April 25, 2013 12:37pm
Ubak: Has his sights set on Pont Alexandre
Ubak aims to reverse Cheltenham Festival form with Pont Alexandre as he lines up in the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Friday.
Trainer Gary Moore and owner Nick Peacock decided to supplement the five-year-old for the two-and-a-half-mile contest after he ran away with a Grade Two event at Aintree earlier this month.
Ubak was beaten into seventh in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, with Pont Alexandre finishing just over 16 and a half lengths ahead in third. However, Moore is hoping to get a bit closer this time, with the prospect of testing ground holding few fears for the handler.
He said: "He's a French-bred so I don't think testing ground could be too much of a problem. He certainly will cope with it so it's not a big problem, it's just that he won fairly impressively on better ground at Liverpool last time, although that was a surprise to me.
"The horse he beat that day (Utopie Des Bordes) hacked up last night (at Perth) so I think he's entitled to be there. He does have to reverse form with Pont Alexandre but I think I rushed him a bit to get to Cheltenham and perhaps we should have given it a miss.
"He raced with Pont Alexandre to the third-last that day then just ran out of petrol, but hopefully he can improve on that. The only slight worry is that I did have a slight setback with him which meant he missed three or four days of work. He had a cut which meant he missed a bit but he's scanned fine now.
"He's a fairly clean-winded horse, though, so hopefully it shouldn't be too much of a problem."
Pont Alexandre was sent off the 6-4 favourite for the Neptune after winning a Grade Two at Leopardstown in January. Trainer Willie Mullins could offer no excuse for his defeat but reports his charge in fine form ahead of this retrieval mission.
He told www.attheraces.com: "Pont Alexandre disappointed us a bit in the Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham. However, he has been in good form since and maybe the whole occasion just got to him a bit."
Mullins has a second string to his bow in the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Un Atout, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The five-year-old was having just his third outing over hurdles on that occasion and just his fourth run in total after winning a bumper at Naas last term.
He switches up in trip here and Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown, is hoping the extra distance and experience of Cheltenham will stand him in good stead.
"It was a big step up for him last time but he went there with no experience and hopefully he will have learnt from it and will improve," he said. "We're trying two and a half miles here and we're hoping that might help him find a bit more, too. He's won on heavy before so the ground wouldn't be a concern for us."