Coneygree given Lexus option

Vincent Halley has set his sights on a big Christmas date with Arctic Skipper, who features among 28 entries for the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.

Coneygree has been entered for the Lexus Chase

Arctic Skipper was a shock 25/1 winner of the two-mile Fortria Chase at Navan last month and is entered for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase over half a mile further on Sunday week.

However, Halley is eager to step back up to three miles with the seven-year-old, who also placed twice in Grade Three company, including in last season's Imperial Call Chase.

He said: "He's entered in the John Durkan but I think we'd be leaning towards the Lexus Chase.

"I think Leopardstown will suit him and we've been wanting to step him up to three miles this season.

"The John Durkan is going to be a very good race and a lot of good horses could be going there so I wouldn't want him having a hard race there as it would be too quick a turnaround to another Grade One.

"We will aim him at the Lexus and he's been in good form since his last run. I think he's still improving and obviously he will have to step up to a Grade One.

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"He's in good form, though, and we're looking forward to it."

Arctic Skipper is part of a potential all-star cast for the Grade One heat, with 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree and last year's Lexus winner Don Poli notable contenders.

Don Poli is one of five entries for Gordon Elliott, with Clarcam, Empire Of Dirt, Outlander and Roi Des Francs also in the mix.

Willie Mullins has three to choose from, with top-class, dual-purpose mare Vroum Vroum Mag entered alongside Djakadam and Alelchi Inois.

Mouse Morris has Smashing and Mozoltov in contention, while Noel Meade has entered Wounded Warrior and 2014 winner Road To Riches.

Henry de Bromhead's Down Royal Grade One winner Valseur Lido is also in the mix.

Jim Culloty's 2014 Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Champagne Fever on his return and could bid to improve upon his two previous unplaced efforts in the Lexus.

Coneygree could form part of a strong British raiding party with Nicky Henderson's new recruit Kotkikova, a former top French performer, an eyecatching entry.

Jonjo O'Neill has three entries in Taquin Du Seuil, More Of That and Minella Rocco, with 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds given the option by Oliver Sherwood.

Nicky Richards' Eduard, the Rebecca Curtis-trained Irish Cavalier and Venetia Williams' Otago Trail are the other British hopes.

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