Ronald Pump switches from hurdles to fences on Sunday when he lines up for the Baroneracing.com Leinster National at Naas.
Matthew Smith’s chestnut is best known for his efforts over the smaller obstacles, most notably finishing second to Lisnagar Oscar in the 2020 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and coming home twice behind Honeysuckle in successive renewals of the Hatton’s Grace.
After starting his current campaign in the latter race and finishing the runner-up by eight lengths, Ronald Pump has since run three times in graded hurdles but has been out of the frame on each occasion, most recently picking up sixth place in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Connections have now decided the nine-year-old will revert to chasing.
“We’re just going to try him back over a fence as we were a bit disappointed with him in the Boyne so we thought we may as well,” said Smith.
“He’s obviously not going to go for any of the big hurdles, he’s not in at Cheltenham or Aintree or anything so we’ll give him a go back over a fence.”
Ronald Pump was campaigned over fences for a brief spell during the 2019-20 season, beating Galvin when winning his chasing debut and finishing second to Fakir D’oudairies in the Grade One Drinmore Novice Chase.
“He has got some good form over fences and he’s gone well in chases before, especially when you look at what he beat and what beat him,” Smith said.
“We know he stays so there’s no worries there, and he’s off a lower mark over fences, he’s rated 147 over a fence and 154 over a hurdle.
“We’ll just see how he goes and make a decision as to where we go next with him, be that over hurdles or fences.”
Trainer Willie Mullins has three contenders, with his trio headed by Thyestes Chase second Franco De Port, the mount of Bryan Cooper.
Class Conti, who was fourth in the race last season, and Stones And Roses also represent the champion trainer and will be ridden by Sean O’Keeffe and Brian Hayes respectively.
Tom Mullins saddled Scoir Mear to a two-length success in the contest last term and the veteran grey will take his chance again along with Enda Bolger’s Champagne Platinum and Gavin Cromwell’s Alfa Mix, with all three owned by JP McManus.
Gordon Elliott has a pair of runners, with Torygraph carry bottom-weight and Defi Bleu only a pound more after being allocated 10st 1lb.
Both horses are owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who will also run the Noel Meade-trained Diol Ker.
Pat Fahy’s Stormy Judge and Robert Murphy’s Darrens Hope complete the field of 12.