First Lieutenant all set for Aintree duty

Irish trainer Mouse Morris has revealed that First Lieutenant is likely to defend his crown in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree following his late withdrawal from the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Only one horse has won back-to-back runnings of the race, with that honour going to Docklands Express in 1993/94.

However, there have been two other horses who have won the race twice – Wayward lad (1984 and 1987) and First Gold (2001 and 2003).

First Lieutenant was taken out of the Gold Cup on the morning of the race after not eating up.

His trainer feels his nine-year-old may have been at the track too long and hopes his charge can gain compensation on the opening day of the three-day Aintree meeting on Thursday, April 3rd.

Morris told At The Races: “He came home OK, but just OK. He lost a bit of weight during the trip, but hopefully he’ll be all right in a few days.

“I think I probably had him over in Cheltenham too long. He went over there on the Sunday before, so he was there nearly a week and maybe we should have waited a bit longer before sending him over.

“It was disappointing, but we move on and if the ground is all right, he’ll probably go back to Aintree. The ground would have to be right – he wouldn’t go if it came up soft.”

The gelding won last year’s contest in game style when beating Menorah by 3/4 of a length, having finished runner-up in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his previous start.

Among his likely opponents this year are David Pipe’s Dynaste who bounced back to his best when winning the Ryanair last