Road To Respect primed for Champion Chase title defence at Down Royal

Wed 23 Oct 2019

Noel Meade could fire a three-pronged assault on the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday week.

The Tu Va trainer has saddled two of the last five winners of the first Grade One contest of the National Hunt season in Ireland, with Road To Riches striking gold in 2014 and Road To Respect running out a brilliant winner last season.

Road To Respect went on to finish a luckless third in the Savills Chase, was beaten a short head by Bellshill in the Irish Gold Cup and finished third in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, before rounding off his campaign with a disappointing effort at Aintree.

Road To Respect was not beaten far in the Ryanair Chase in March

The eight-year-old has won first time out in each of the last three seasons – and Meade could not be happier with his stable star’s preparation so far for his intended return on November 2.

He said: “He (Road To Respect) is good – and all going well, he’ll be going to the north for his first run again.

“He’s in good form, and I’m very happy with him at the moment anyway.”

Road To Respect looks set to be joined by stablemate Snow Falcon – winner of a Grade Two at the same Down Royal fixture last season and impressive in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park earlier this month – while Tout Est Permis is a potential third string for the trainer.

The latter finished third on his reappearance in a Grade Three at Punchestown last week – and future plans are fluid, with owners Gigginstown House Stud responsible for eight of the 12 entries for next week’s Down Royal feature.

Watch how Snow Falcon scored at Gowran Park in October

“It’s looking like Snow Falcon will go to Down Royal, and Tout Est Permis is in the mix too.

“I haven’t confirmed plans for him with the Gigginstown team just yet, and they obviously have a lot of horses for it, so we’ll have to see what they want to do.

“We have the two in it and might have three, or we could hold one back for the Clonmel Oil a couple of weeks later.”

Two potentially exciting prospects for Meade this season are First Approach and Brace Yourself.

First Approach rounded off a solid novice hurdling campaign by finishing fourth behind Minella Indo in a Grade One at the Punchestown Festival.

Brace Yourself has not been seen in competitive action since winning on his hurdling debut at Down Royal almost a year ago.

“First Approach got held up a little bit because he had a fall schooling, which shook him up a little bit,” said Meade.

“He’s actually a brilliant jumper, but that can happen.

“He would have been ready to run by now but for that, and I hope he’ll be out in the next two to three weeks in a beginners chase.

“Brace Yourself hurt his leg after winning in the north last year, but he’s back in and going well and hopefully will be out fairly soon.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet – I might start him back over hurdles and see how we go.”

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