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Keighley hoping to be back in business in cross country

Back On The Lash will bid to set the record straight for trainer Martin Keighley in the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham in a fortnight’s time.

The locally-based trainer thought he had finally broken his Festival duck in the cross-country race six years ago when Any Currency passed the post in front. But the popular veteran was later disqualified after he was found to have traces of a substance permitted for horses in training but banned on racedays in his post-race sample.

Back On The Lash proved he has what it takes to win around the unique circuit when striking gold at the November meeting – and while he could only finish fifth when favourite to double his tally the following month, Keighley is quietly confident about his chances ahead of his return to Prestbury Park.

He said: “It was gutting for Any Currency to lose the race, but we’ve got a nice horse in the cross country this time in Back On The Lash.

“He won the November race at the first attempt, which I’m told hasn’t been done before, which proves how well he took to the course.

“Sean Bowen felt he was flat at the December meeting, so he’s had a break and is a horse that runs well fresh, so he could run a big race.”

Back On The Lash could be Keighley’s only runner at this year’s Festival.

The Moreton-On-Marsh handler would love to run dual winner Brorson in the Pertemps Final, but he is unlikely to make the cut.

Brorson in winning action at Catterick
Brorson in winning action at Catterick (Simon Marper/PA)

Irish recruit Spanish Present recently made a winning debut for the team in a Market Rasen bumper, but Keighley is unsure whether a tilt at the Champion Bumper could be a bridge too far at this stage.

He added: “Spanish Present was an impressive bumper winner last week. The sensible thing would be to wait for Aintree instead of taking on the Willie Mullins horses at Cheltenham, but he’s a six-year-old who has experience, so we’ll have a look at it.

“Brorson is a young improving horse who has been impressive twice this season, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get in the Pertemps.

“He’d love good ground and he’s got good form at the course – he was second to a good horse of Gordon Elliott’s (Top Bandit) over two miles – and he’s improved massively for stepping up to three.

“I think he’d have a solid each-way chance if he gets in.”

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