Who says ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?’ Just four days short of his twelfth birthday the enigmatic but hugely talented Tidal Bay will have his first journey outside of the British Isles when travelling across the sea to Ireland to tackle the best the home team can offer in what is building up to be a tremendous renewal of the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28, writes Elliot Slater.

Tidal Bay has been called some pretty unkind names during his racing career, but no-one can take away from him the fact that he has won six times in graded company, including the 2008 Grade 1 Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and the Grade 1 Johns Smith’s Maghull Chase at Aintree a few weeks later. As well as winning the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle in 2010, he’s also been runner-up in a Betfair Chase (to Imperial Commander), and second in a Tingle Creek Chase (to Master Minded), so we’re talking here about a racehorse with a very serious engine.

The veteran joined champion trainer Paul Nicholls in November 2011 on the disqualification of his former handler Howard Johnson, and has done well since with the change of surroundings producing a 15-length win in the ultra-competitive Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April, while he opened his account this term at the first time of asking when beating Crack Away Jack by nearly five lengths in the Grade 2 John Smith’s Hurdle at Wetherby before running a mighty race to chase home the new Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth (received 6lbs) in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month.

Nicholls reports the old boy to be in tremendous shape and will take him to Ireland where a clash with the young stars Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs could well be on the cards, a meeting that will give British jumps fans a line to the form of Nicholls’ other top young chasers, AL Ferof and Silviniaco Conti.

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