Noel Meade’s formerly high-class hurdler Go Native looks set to make a belated return to action after more than two years off the track when taking his chance in the Grade 1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in late-April, writes Elliot Slater.
Something of a forgotten horse, the nine-year-old hasn’t been seen since being sent off the 11/4 favourite in the horse racing odds to win the 2010 Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He ran a long way below his best and was a beaten horse some way before the final flight, after which he was eased by Paul Carberry and eventually came in 10th of the 12-runner field behind the Nicky Henderson-trained Binocular.
The gelded son of Double Eclipse has endured a series of training setbacks since his Cheltenham disappointment, but Meade has been keen to persevere with the winner of eight of his fifteen career starts, which include the 2009 Supreme Novices Hurdle, Fighting Fifth Hurdle, and Christmas Hurdle, victories that put him very much at the top of the rankings of British and Irish two-mile hurdlers.
Meade now believes that at long last he has managed to bring Go Native back to something approaching peak form and is keen to give him an outing this term just to see if the old fire is still in his belly. He could hardly pick a more taxing first race after such a long break, but the classy performer would be a fascinating contender if locking horns with the likes of former champion, Hurricane Fly, and other top hurdlers from both sides of the Irish Sea.
Unaccompanied, Dermot Weld’s smart mare, is also being prepared for a tilt at the Punchestown race, and with the likes of Champion Hurdle runner-up Overturn and the smart Zarkandar being other possible contenders, the race promises to be one to savour.