The news that Pandorama, one of Ireland's leading hopes for the RSA Chase on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, is reported a “very doubtful” runner having suffered a muscle injury in his hindquarters, must come as a serious blow to trainer Noel Meade, writes Elliot Slater.
Meade had guided his smart performer through a highly successful campaign so far this term, winning all three chase starts, the last two both coming in Grade 1 company at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown. Having shown a particularly good chasing technique the challenge of the Cheltenham circuit looked tailor-made for the seven-year-old gelding, who hasn't made a discernable error in any of his three chase outings.
Although the signs are that Pandorama is recovering from the muscle injury, Meade gave the strong impression that he believes that time is running out to have the gelding 100% fit to take on the likes of Punchestowns, Long Run and Diamond Harry in the RSA Chase, a race that is shaping up to be one of the highlights of Cheltenham 2010
Thus far there are no such worries for Meade's leading Champion Hurdle candidate Go Native, the horse who stands on the threshold of landing a stunning £1 million bonus if he can claim the two-mile hurdling crown. Having already bagged Grade 1 successes in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and then the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, Go Native, joint-favourite with some firms along with fellow Irish raider Solwhit, will be hoping to compensate Meade for a number of close calls in the race with the highly talented but ever frustrating Harchibald.
Go Native might also be joined in the Champion Hurdle line-up by stable companion Donnas Palm (available at up to 50/1 with some Cheltenham Betting firms) and runner-up to Solwhit at Leopardstown in January.