Philip Reynolds is aiming to win the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham for a historic third year running with a horse few in Britain would even be aware of – and who remarkably had never seen the racecourse until late last October.
Eagle Lion is bidding to make up for lost time. The eight-year-old, whose first start was in Galway in a bumper last winter, subsequently finished second on his hurdling debut at Punchestown before winning easily there in late January under Davy Russell, Reynolds' main go-to rider.
And it is to Punchestown that the horse is to return on 21 February for a Pertemps qualifier race. Like Mall Dini and Presenting Percy, the last two winners of the three-mile handicap at Cheltenham, he is a novice and trained by Pat Kelly in Co Galway.
"Eagle Lion is a nice horse and I understand he'll get a mark of roughly 130 so we will go to Punchestown later this month with a view to him going to Cheltenham, where I reckon he'd have a reasonable chance, all going well," Reynolds told RTÉ Sport.
The Longford native, a son of the late former Taoiseach, Albert, also had news on Presenting Percy and Mall Dini, who are to form the other two legs of a staggeringly strong three-pronged Cheltenham assault for both Reynolds and Kelly.
Presenting Percy is to tackle Grade Two company over fences on Saturday next, returning to the site of a recent hurdling win, while Mall Dini may yet run before the Festival next month.
"The Red Mills Chase on Saturday at Gowran is on the agenda for Presenting Percy, who is being aimed at the RSA Chase. I'd say more likely Mall Dini will run in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham, a race he ran well in when unlucky last year, and I'd be hopeful, even though we haven't much time, that he will get a run before then.
"If we were to run out of time with him, he’d get an entry in the Irish National too.
"It was frustrating he couldn't run on Sunday when a non-runner at Punchestown but hopefully he will come alive at Cheltenham as he has before."