/ Racing

Michael Winters hopes Rebel Fitz can flourish over fences

Updated: Saturday, 19 Apr 2014 10:49 | Comments

Rebel Fitz
Rebel Fitz

Michael Winters is hoping Rebel Fitz can blossom on the big stage over fences when he tackles the Grade One Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The Cork handler has always felt the nine-year-old would come into his own over the larger obstacles and he enjoyed a fine campaign last summer with five wins on the bounce.

The former Galway Hurdle hero disappointed on his final outing of last year at Cheltenham but bounced back to winning ways on his return to action in a hurdle at Cork last month.

Winters' yard had been under a bit of a cloud but he feels the horses are healthy again, and reports Rebel Fitz in fine fettle ahead of his biggest test to date.

"He's in great order. He had a grand introduction at Mallow and has had time to recover from that," said Winters.

"The horses weren't right for a long time and it just makes you look over you shoulder a bit, but he seems to be seriously well.

"We've had him away at Michael Hourigan's to jump. He was very enthusiastic, seemed happy in himself and came away from it good.

"He hasn't been pitted against the horses over fences that he should have been taking on. He won five last year without having to battle and this is the first time he's up against horses as good as him.

"If he turns up 100 per cent in himself I suppose he might be the best horse in the race. He had a bit of class over hurdles and hopefully that will stand to him.

"He's rated a few pounds lower over fences than hurdles but we've always thought he would make a better chaser. He'll probably have to run to around 160 to win on Sunday.

"It's a tough race and we're bit anxious, due to the way things have been, but hopeful."

Willie Mullins saddles two in the €90,000 contest and Ballycasey would appear the one to beat on paper after a fine run to finish fourth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last month.

He drops back in trip having just failed to see out the extended three miles up the famous hill.

Stablemate Mozoltov was an early faller in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham but has bounced back to winning ways at Navan since.

Bright New Dawn, who carries the same Gigginstown colours, has proven progressive over fences and comes into the race off the back of good victories at Navan and Naas.

Trainer Dessie Hughes admits he has a tougher task now but is hoping his charge can step up.

He said: "He's in good form. He's a good mover and we've always thought he'd like good ground.

"It looks a very good race. Rebel Fitz should be hard to beat as he's got his ground. It's another step up for our fellow but hopefully he's up to it."

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