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Geraghty confident `class act' Coudray can notch hat-trick; Roche star ready to grab Gold Medal in Grade 1 Leopardstown chase.

Byline: TONY O'HEHIR

BARRY GERAGHTY, who turned down the ride on Florida Pearl in the Pertemps King George VI Chase, is hoping that Le Coudray will repay his faith at Leopardstown today.

JP McManus's former high-class staying hurdler is attempting to complete a hat-trick in the Denny Gold Medal Novices' Chase, broadcast live on the Racing Channel.

Geraghty, who was successful on Le Coudray over two miles at Naas last month and again in the two-and-a- half-mile Grade 1 Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse, believes the Christy Roche-trained eight-year-old will not be inconvenienced by dropping back to two miles and a furlong.

He said: "Le Coudray has plenty of pace and the two times I've ridden him he was a class act. I don't see any reason why he won't be quick enough. He won easily over two miles at Naas and he will be fitter this time. He's the one they all have to beat."

Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said: "Le Coudray came out of the Fairyhouse race very well and Christy is very happy with him. We're hoping for another big run and we're quite happy that he will handle the shorter trip."

Bust Out, ridden by Geraghty when scoring on his debut over fences at Fairyhouse, is returning to the track where he went close to upsetting Istabraq in the December Festival Hurdle a year ago.

Trainer Jessica Harrington said: "When Bust Out won at Fairyhouse it wasn't really convincing as there were a lot of fallers which made things easy for him in the end. I've been very happy with him since and he will be a lot sharper this time."

Ricardo, who finished a nine-length second to Le Coudray on his chasing debut at Naas, renews rivalry, with trainer Brian Nolan believing there will be less of a gap between the pair this time.

He said: "He'll run a big race and, with a bit of luck, he should finish closer to Le Coudray this time. He's in good form and has been working well."

Also in the field are the Paul Nolan-trained Galway Hurdle winner Say Again, who finished second on his chasing debut at Thurles, Petersham - a dual winner winner for Michael O'Brien - Quadco and The Gatherer, who was in front when he took a heavy fall on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse last month.

Fairyhouse winners Golden Cross and Harchibald go head to head with dual winner Party Airs in the Denny Juvenile Hurdle on the same card with connections of all three voicing confidence in their firepower.

Norman Williamson takes over from Charlie Swan, who rides Intersky Falcon in the Pertemps Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, on Golden Cross, who ran up a hat-trick on the Flat before scoring on his hurdling debut.

Trainer Michael Halford said: "Judged by the schooling he has done since winning at Fairyhouse, his jumping seems to have sharpened up and, as he has done all his winning on soft or heavy, the going shouldn't bother him."

Paul Carberry performed one of his best recovery acts to stay aboard Harchibald when Noel Meade's French import almost exited at the second hurdle before scoring on his jumping debut and Meade could do without any similar scares this time.

He said: "He did well to win in the circumstances. He's in good shape and I'm very happy with him. I don't think the heavy ground will trouble him."

Party Airs is unbeaten in two starts over hurdles and trainer Dermot Weld is expecting another good run.

He said: "Party Airs is what he is - a tough, genuine horse. Unlike many of our horses he does handle testing ground well so there are no worries on that score. He should run a very good race."

My Holiday BankerLen Lungo

The Bajan Bandit (12.55 Ayr, today)

I'm hoping The Bajan Bandit can win. He is a good horse - he has only been beaten once in his life - and I hope he can add another win here.

CAPTION(S):

Le Coudray: connections are convinced the former classy staying hurdler will handle the drop back in trip
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2002
Words:686
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