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On the comeback trail 07/09/2009

With many of the leading jumping yards having hosted open days in recent weeks, thoughts are already starting to turn towards the National Hunt season, which for many does not really swing into action in any meaningful way until October.

There will be much to look forward to for followers of Kayf Tara’s offspring with horses such as Mad Max, Planet Of Sound, Carruthers, Kornati Kid and Michael Flips set to reappear.

Two seven-year-olds who were absent for much or all of last season have made successful recoveries from injury and will join the novice chasing ranks this winter. After finishing just a neck behind Fiverforthree in the G1 Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival, Venalmar went into many notebooks as a chaser with a very bright future. The chance to shine has been delayed for a season after he had a bone chip removed but trainer Mouse Morris reports that he is now back in work and likely to go straight over fences in October or November. From nine starts, Venalmar, who was bred by Mrs P G Wilkins and Bobby McAlpine, has won three times, including the G2 Slaney Novices’ Hurdle, and has been placed on a further four occasions.

Also on the comeback trail is Earth Planet, who was injured after finishing third at Cheltenham last October. Also a three-time winner, Earth Plant was bred by Edward Devereux and is in the care of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, who told the Racing Post, ‘I’m very keen on his prospects in staying novice chases.’

While running through the list of horses to follow from his Ditcheat stable for the season ahead, Nicholls also highlighted Like Minded, who has run only twice, winning his debut bumper for Don Cantillon before being sold for £100,000 at Brightwells Cheltenham Sale in November. Having joined Nicholls, he finished fourth in the Champion Bumper at Aintree and the five-year-old will be aimed at novice hurdle races this season.