Hatton’s Grace hero Teahupoo tests the water over three miles for the first time in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park on Thursday.
Gordon Elliott’s charge finished last behind Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle last season, but turned that form on its head when inflicting a first career defeat on Henry de Bromhead’s superstar mare at Fairyhouse last month.
That victory came over the intermediate distance of two and a half miles and Elliott is keen to see how he fares over an even longer trip in a bid to discover whether the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March is a realistic target.
When asked if he was looking forward to running Teahupoo over three miles, Elliott said: “I’m looking forward to every day!
“It is a step up in trip and it looks like it will suit him, so we will see what happens.
“We will get Thursday out of the way, but that (Stayers’ Hurdle) is what we are thinking. We are dreaming rather than thinking!”
Teahupoo will be ridden by Davy Russell, who is out to secure his first Graded success since coming out of retirement to fill in for the injured Jack Kennedy.
“It was no surprise to us what this lad did in Fairyhouse last month as he was simply returning to the level we know he can perform at,” Russell told his Star Sports blog.
“He was good here in Gowran last February and we know conditions are in his favour. He’s always shaped like he’s worth a crack at this sort of a trip so we will learn plenty about him.
“This is no easy task though as it’s a good deal further than he’s gone before and he’s a fair penalty to shoulder too. That said, it does look the ideal opportunity for Teahupoo.”
Martin Brassil is looking forward to saddling Longhouse Poet, who won the Thyestes Chase on this card 12 months ago before going on to finish sixth in the Grand National at Aintree.
While his better form is over the larger obstacles, the nine-year-old did make a successful switch to hurdling at Limerick over the Christmas period and Brassil is happy to roll the dice.
He said: “We’re looking forward to his run and he’ll love the ground and he’ll love the trip. It looks like there’s a horse a stone and a half better than him in there, but we’re happy to run him anyway and see how he gets on.
“We were very pleased with his Limerick win and we are hopeful he can build on that. He took the Limerick race very well and we’ve been very happy with him since, so we will see how we go.”
Beacon Edge is fitted with blinkers for the first time by Noel Meade, while De Bromhead is represented by the veteran Summerville Boy.
Early Doors (Joseph O’Brien) and My Design (Declan Queally) complete the Grade Two field.