Winters still dreaming as Chatham Street Lad sits Fairyhouse test
The nine-year-old has already been given two entries at the Cheltenham Festival, in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase, and is quoted in the ante-post betting for two other races there.
That interest and speculation stems from Chatham Street Lad’s emphatic victory in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month.
County Cork trainer Winters reports his stable star in fine form since that outstanding performance, and primed for Saturday action.
“He looks in good order – he came home very well,” he said. “He enjoyed the change of scenery, (and) he’s moving very well.
“The ground is obviously heavy, but Fairyhouse heavy might not be as bad as other tracks.
“We’re after a Grade One with him. He’s in good form and hopefully he’ll come back in one piece and give a good account of himself.
“He probably has to win if we are dreaming big time. He won well at Cheltenham, so you can get carried away, but there’s no reason why he wouldn’t back it up.
“The ground will be fine and safe. It’s great to have a favourite’s chance in such a race.”
Chatham Street Lad will be ridden for the first time in public by Simon Torrens, but the 5lb claimer has partnered him at Winters’ yard.
“The lad who’s riding him schooled him this year before his first race. Darragh (O’Keeffe) is not available this time, (so) it means Simon is on him.
“He gets on great with him and he’s claiming 5lb – which will help a lot.”
Winters did also give Chatham Street Lad an entry in the Sky Bet Killiney Chase at Punchestown on Sunday – when he would have faced the Envoi Allen – but that was just a precaution.
“We put him in at Punchestown just in case Fairyhouse was called off,” he said.
Opposition in a maximum 16-runner field includes Emmet Mullins’ The Shunter, who is back over fences after winning the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in November on his latest start.
Willie Mullins is two-handed with Fan De Blues and Pont Aven, while Gordon Elliott runs four – Chosen Mate, Or Jaune De Somoza, Bel Ami De Sivola and Timoteo, plus the reserve Dakota Moirette.
Joseph O’Brien is another trainer well-represented with three runners – Entoucas, Front View and Top Moon, all owned by JP McManus.