Nicky Henderson's Marie's Rock rolling to Punchestown

Marie's Rock looks a mare on a mission after victory at the Cheltenham Festival and will test her credentials at Punchestown for Nicky Henderson.

Nicky Henderson's hat-trick hunting Marie's Rock is looking to continue her solid form with victory in the Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

The Middleham Park mare hasn't looked back since victory at Warwick in February, progressing again to take the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

"Barring an act of God, we'll be heading over there," said Tom Palin, Middleham Park Racing's National Hunt manager.

"As for who we've got to take on, it's my understanding from speaking to Nicky (Henderson) on Tuesday that it is still very much up in the air.

"Epatante is in there and if she turns up then she's going to be the one to beat now that we've seen she can stay two and a half miles.

"If she turns up then she's a Grade One-winning mare in a Grade One mares' race - it is what it is and to be the best you've got to beat the best, so we'll give it our best shot."

Palin is expecting plenty of the Middleham Park syndicate who own Marie's Rock to make the journey to Ireland to roar on the mare who looks to be on a career arc.

"We're still very much on a high from Cheltenham, we still can't really believe it," he said.

"It's not really sunk in and the team is still on cloud nine that we've got a horse good enough to be talking about these races, let alone winning them.

"It should be a very exciting day and the fact that we've got people willing to make the effort to go across in these trying times shows you the level of support and excitement behind her.

"Our chance will depend on who turns up but we're in as good form as we were going to Cheltenham, in fact her last piece of work over the weekend was probably a little bit better than what we saw before Cheltenham.

"She's in the form of her life, so it makes sense to extend her season while we can. This is the obvious race for her, let's hope she'll put up a good show and we'll come home with some more black type."

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