Owner Philip Reynolds has played down Presenting Percy’s chances of upstaging Min in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday.
The Pat Kelly-trained eight-year-old will be having his first race since trailing home a disappointing eighth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, when he started favourite.
He finished lame but Reynolds said on Racing TV’s new podcast, On The Wire, that he believes his flagbearer will need “a furlong start” if he is to beat three-time Grade One winner Min, who will be among four Willie Mulins-trained runners in the 2m4f Grade One feature.
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Reynolds told On The Wire host Johnny Ward: “Percy’s well and he’s been with Pat since early August, [having] got a clean bill of health before that. He’s been working away and Pat has him ready but it’s a hot race, a high-quality renewal.
“Min is a two, two-and-a-half-mile specialist. The way he ran around Aintree in April, he would want to be giving us a furlong start.
“The trip is well too short for him [Presenting Percy] on a track which is arguably not his favourite in the world. But all that said, I do expect him to give a good account of himself.”
Kelly has had 73 runners in Ireland since February without a victory.
Asked if that was a concern, Reynolds replied with a laugh: “It’s a big concern for me because most of them, I’d say, are mine. Hopefully, we will have a change of fortune on Sunday. I can’t see him winning but I hope he runs well.”
Presenting Percy won the RSA Chase in emphatic style in 2018, having landed the Pertemps Final in similar fashion 12 months earlier. He started 100-30 to complete a famous treble in the Gold Cup but the writing was on the wall for his supporters a long way from home.
Reynolds has his own theory as to why he failed to fire, believing that the first-fence fall of Kemboy might have been a significant factor.
Watch the start of last year's Gold Cup: Kemboy exits when upsides Presenting Percy, in the green and white colours
“Percy’s strength is his jumping but he never jumped a fence,” he told On The Wire. “When you go back and look at it, he was OK at the first but from there [to] home he never really jumped.
“He came home lame, as you know. I don’t know where he got his knock, maybe it was from the fall of Kemboy [at the first fence] as he was right alongside him at the time. From there to the finish line he never jumped a fence or got into a rhythm, and that’s not Percy.”
Presenting Percy is a best-priced 16-1 for this season’s Gold Cup in a market headed by Lostintranslation, Kemboy and Al Boum Photo.
“We are back at ground zero and going to have to build from there,” Reynolds said. “Whether it’s is a short price or a long price, we will have a better idea after Sunday.”
Paul Townend has unsurprisingly opted to partner Min, with the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins on Real Steel, Robbie Power aboard Duc Des Genievres and Brian Hayes booked to partner Voix Du Reve.
Assessing the chances of the quartet, Mullins junior said: “Min won the race last year and seems in very good form at home, so we’re hoping he can follow up.
Philip Reynolds told us more about himself and Presenting Percy before last year's Gold Cup
“Real Steel has shown a preference for going right-handed, which means options are limited. He has the benefit of a run, which is obviously an advantage, and this will tell us whether he’s a proper Grade One horse or not.
“Voix Du Reve beat Real Steel at Fairyhouse in the spring, but this is his first run of the season and I think he might come on for it more than the others.
“Duc Des Genievres was beaten a long way on his first run of the season in Navan, but he always seems to take a run or two to find full fitness, so we’re hoping for an improved performance on Sunday.”
Gordon Elliott saddles last year’s runner-up Shattered Love, as well as Hardline.
Tony Martin’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly and Snow Falcon, from Noel Meade’s yard, complete the quality field.
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