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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Hughes has Focus in sightsHeadlines
Dessie Hughes takes on Back In Focus at Leopardstown

Dessie Hughes insists there is nothing between his two Topaz Novice Chase runners, but feels they both have their work cut out against Back In Focus at Leopardstown.

Lyreen Legend was only four lengths behind the Willie Mullins-trained Back In Focus last time out and Hughes hopes his inmate can get even closer.

"He ran very well the last day and he might even improve again. He doesn't mind the ground, he gets through it when it's like this," the County Kildare handler said.

"Tofino Bay likes the ground, too. He ended up last season rated 144 over hurdles so he was entitled to be a good chaser. He's taken to it well and there's nothing between my two, but I think they'll all have to go some to beat Willie's - he's the one to beat."

Andrew Lynch rides Aupcharlie, third in the Cheltenham Bumper in 2011 and impressive on his chasing debut at Gowran last month.

"He jumped and travelled well in Gowran the last day, I was very happy with him. He was a bit of a disappointing horse last year, but seems to have improved a lot this season. Hopefully he can go there and give a good account of himself," said Lynch.

Peter Fahey is hoping the step up in trip will enable Pride Of The Artic return to winning ways after finishing fourth behind Arvika Ligeonniere in the Drinmore.

"I expect him to run a very good race. He likes to get his own way up front and he couldn't last time against Arvika Ligeonniere. The step up in trip will suit and he's got blinkers back on, he won in them over hurdles," said Fahey.

"This looks a red-hot race, it will really sort out the novices and we'll know more after this. If he gets his own way he'll run well, he just sulked last time."

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