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Geraghty puts his faith in Le Coudray.

Byline: Tony O'Hehir

LE COUDRAY, the main reason why Barry Geraghty turned down the ride on Florida Pearl in the Pertemps King George VI Chase, will be all the rage to complete a hat-trick in the Grade 1 Denny Gold Medal Novice Chase.

Geraghty, whose run of success has been a feature of recent weeks on both sides of the Irish Sea, is hoping his decision to ride at Leopardstown will be vindicated by JP McManus's former high-class staying hurdler.

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, Geraghty believes the Christy Roche-trained eight-year-old will not be inconvenienced by dropping back in trip in the two-mile-one-furlong Leopardstown feature.

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 race at Fairyhouse 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 last season, and his trainer Jessica Harrington, who won with Moscow Flyer a year ago, 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 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, and trainer Brian Nolan believes it will be closer between the two this time.

He said: "The Naas race in testing ground took a fair bit out of Ricardo as he was coming back from a long break. I would have liked to have got another run into him, but anything suitable came a bit too close to the Leopardstown race.

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

Paul Nolan, no relation to Ricardo's trainer, said of his Galway Hurdle winner Say Again, who finished second on his chasing debut at Thurles: "He's in great form and has definitely improved a lot since Thurles as most of my horses weren't right around that time. The worry is the heavy ground."

Michael O'Brien said of his contender Petersham: "He's won two chases and is in fine form. But this will be a lot hotter for him. He's a very good jumper, but he's the youngest horse in the race and we can only guess at whether he will be quite good enough."

Pat Fahy, who trains Quadco, said: "When he fell last time he got a piece of plastic piping stuck in a hoof and missed a few days. He seems to be in good form but you can never really tell with him."

Completing the line-up is The Gatherer, who was in front when he took a heavy fall on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse last month.

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Le Coudray: JP McManus's former classy staying hurdler drops back in trip as he bids for a hat-trick over fences at Leopardstown
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 24, 2002
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