County Cork trainer Mary Louise Hallahan is looking forward to the spring as she prepares her progressive chaser Kansas City Chief for some of the biggest prizes on the calendar.
The Boylesports Irish Grand National is now the most valuable jumps race in Ireland with its €500,000 purse, and that is where Hallahan envisages Kansas City Chief completing his season’s work come April.
Now an eight-year-old, the Westerner gelding hit a career high when prevailing in first-time cheekpieces at Punchestown in December. Denis O’Regan was aboard on that occasion, and Kansas City Chief ran out a convincing two-and-a-half-length victor from Gordon Elliott’s useful novice Space Cadet.
“He’s an out-and-out stayer, as he showed last time. He was unlucky on his previous run at Fairyhouse (unseated rider in the Porterstown Handicap Chase) – I thought anyway,” reasoned the Macroom-based operator.
“Ideally the way we’re going now would be towards the Midlands National at Uttoxeter. All being well after that then I’d suppose the big target would be the Irish National.
“He’s rated 130 at the moment so I think to be safe for getting into the Irish National he’d probably have to climb a little bit more. If he continues in good form, going up the weights should be no problem to him, though.
“He’s lightly raced and prior to any of those, other possibilities would be the Grand National Trial (next month at Punchestown). The Bobbyjo (Chase at Fairyhouse in February) is there as well for him.
“He could even have a spin over hurdles, it all depends on what falls right for him.
“We’d like to keep him going over a minimum of three miles anyway.”