Friday, May 1, 2009
ALL THE NEWS FROM DAY FOUR OF THE 2009 PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL
SOLWHIT CONFIRMS CHAMPION HURDLE CREDENTIALS WITH NARROW WIN
Charles Byrnes and his team were confident with a late flurry seeing Solwhit go off a joint 2/1 favourite for the Grade 1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle and their faith was well and truly justified as the five-year-old held off Champion Hurdler Punjabi by a short-head under Davy Russell.
A winner at Aintree four-weeks ago over two and a half miles, Solwhit denied subsequent Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle winner Fiveforthree on that occasion and in winning this he left behind him some top level campaigners to leave Byrnes describing him as the best he has ever trained.
Byrnes said: “He goes on any ground and gets any trip, so it looks like he is top class. I would imagine we would aim him at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next season now. I have never trained a Champion Hurdler so I’m not sure what route he will take.
“He has speed, stamina and a bit of toughness about him which I think he'll need for Cheltenham. I wouldn't think he will run on the Flat now. He would well capable of winning on the Flat, but has been on the go since September. He ran at Listowel and would say he is well due a break.”
The Limerick based trainer was ending a memorable season which included a first Cheltenham and Aintree Festival success, "It has been an unbelievable season. To get to win at Cheltenham with Weapons Amnesty was absolutely fantastic and then to get this fella to come along is just great," he concluded.
Successful jockey Davy Russell added: “It’s great and you need a good horse round here. It was a great race - we had gone a good gallop and the ground was heavy. My horse probably didn’t jump as fluently as he can but I was always confident that I would go ahead and win.
“He’s a good horse and he’s going to mature into a nicer horse next year with a summer’s grass. He’s still only five and why can’t he improve? He’s beaten this year’s Champion Hurdle winner and obviously it will be a very hot race next year with the likes of Hurricane Fly and all those horses coming back. But he’s a good horse and he’s on the upgrade.”
Barry Geraghty, rider of the short-head second Punjabi, said: “The slow pace didn’t really suit him. A genuine flat out gallop is his job and it just turn into a little bit of a dash when six of us were upsides turning in. He was bold in fairness to him but a true run race would have suited him.”
Back in fourth was Sizing Europe, who showed some of his old sparkle.
Sean Tiernan, racing manager to owner Alan Potts, commented: “It was a super run and I am delighted. He missed out the second last and he obviously didn’t want to hit the front too soon, like has happened to Andrew before, but he ran great. He didn’t enjoy the ground and we thought he wanted better ground.
“We might give him one run in a novice chase over the next three or four weeks or we may let him out for the summer. From what I have been told by Alan and Henry (De Bromhead), we will be going chasing with him.”
ANOTHER MULLINS 1-2 AS MIKAEL HOLDS VINNY
Described as “a machine” by Ruby Walsh, Mikael D’Haguenet maintained his 100 per cent record under Willie Mullins when landing the Grade 1 Land Rover Champion Novice Hurdle for the simply unstoppable combination.
Mikael D’Haguenet was pitched in against stablemate Cousin Vinny and it was the pair that headed the market which also led home the eight runners, but it was the Ballymore Properties Hurdle winner that had eight lengths to spare at the death and William Hill make him a 4/1 favourite for next year’s RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
“Ruby said at Naas he was a machine. I thought that Cousin Vinny had done some tremendous work during the week - he probably worked better than he had all season - and he has ran the race of his life to finish second. It just shows how good the winner is,” said Mullins, after greeting his 11th winner of this year’s Punchestown Festival.
He continued: “Mikael D’Haguenet had done the work that he was doing prior to Cheltenham. I thought a repetition of the Cheltenham form would make him hard to beat and that is how it worked out.
“I am delighted to see Vinny back on form and, being by Bob Back, he would prefer better ground but I think that the other horse is a fair sort and I am delighted to have the two of them.
“Both will be going chasing next season. We can always come back over hurdles if they don’t take to chasing. Mikael has won over fences in France already and that was one of the key reasons why we bought him last year - he has that experience under his belt and I am looking forward to seeing both of them over fences.
“I will probably put them both away now. Mikael has done everything right this season. We were bold even coming here, especially with the form that Cousin Vinny was in, and I will probably put them away.”
Winning owner Richie Ritchie added: “He’s a machine - Ruby said it after we got the horse at Naas - and it has just been spectacular. It was a very good run. I was worried because he hasn’t been working brilliantly but he showed what a class horse he is today.
“I flew all the way from San Francisco, 8,000 miles, but it has been worth it, very, very worth it.
“It will be chasing all the way next season. Willie thinks that he is a Gold Cup horse and we will test that next year and see how we get on.”
Patrick Mullins, rider of Cousin Vinny was just as impressed as his father regarding the efforts of the runner-up.
He said: “Without a doubt, he ran a cracker. The winner is a very, very good horse. I think maybe on better ground it would have closer as that would not have suited the winner so well.”
Four-year-old Bouggler ran a blinder in third and his trainer Emma Lavelle was pleased with the Aintree winner.
“The owners are absolutely delighted. They are a fantastic crew and travel everywhere with the horse which is great. He has run a blinder. He is a four-year-old, is still learning and this was only his third ever run over hurdles. It's just a shame we have come up against two such fantastic horses that Willie has got - they really are something special. Our boy looks very decent in his own right and a little bit more pace would have helped him.”
The attendance on day four of the Punchestown Festival was 28,592 which was down from 30,184 from the corresponding day 12-months ago.
THE MULLINS/WALSH BONANZA CONTINUES ON DAY FOUR AT PUNCHESTOWN
Willie Mullins tasted even more success at the 2009 Punchestown Festival courtesy of both Ballytrim and Equus Maximus, both of whom were earmarked as possible Grand National prospects. Mullins has now trained 10 winners at this year’s festival.
Ballytrim (11/2) left it late to find his rhythm but lasted home well in the gruelling three miles and six furlongs slog of the Eventus Marquees Handicap Chase to score by two-lengths from Rock Diplomat with another Mullins runner Bothar Na in third.
“Ruby said that he was on the first horse beaten and that he was never going anywhere but credit the horse, he just kept grinding it out and finding more,” revealed the winning trainer.
“I don’t think he is good enough to win at graded level. He is a handicapper and I think we might look at the Irish or English National or possibly a Hennessy at Newbury. “
It was a first and fourth for Mullins in the Betfair Novice Handicap Chase as himself and Walsh yet again kept the punters happy when Equus Maximus rallied late to deny the brave effort of Tranquil Sea.
Mullins saddled top-weight Golden Silver to be fourth and afterwards the trainer highlighted similar plans for the winner.
“I thought Golden Silver was unlucky – he ran a cracker – but just made two bad mistakes.
“Equus Maximus I probably ran back too quick a couple of times this season thinking he was right but he wasn’t.
“He loves that ground,” continued Mullins. “He would probably prefer a longer trip and maybe it could be an Irish or English National for him too and if he got this ground he could appear at the Hennessy.”
JOHN DANIEL FOLLOWS IN FAMILY TRADITION WITH FORTUNATE OUTSIDER
John Daniel Moore, son of trainer Arthur and of course a grandson of Dan, got proceedings on day four of the Punchestown Festival off to a surprising start as he landed the KFM Bishopscourt Cup with 50/1 chance Shin A Vee.
One of the newer recruits to the training ranks, Moore has already enjoyed two winners from just five runners under Rules but admitted he was a slightly fortunate winner.
“This is a great local race and I am pleased to win it. It is not really a surprise to us but in fairness if the other horse had of stood up he probably would have beat us,” said the winning trainer who himself was doing the steering.
15 GO TO POST IN THE stanjames.com 1000 GUINEAS
- GUEST REPORTS SERIOUS ATTITUDE IN GREAT FORM
The stanjames.com 1000 Guineas (3.15pm) at Newmarket on Sunday, May 3, has attracted 15 starters, with all the main protagonists for the Classic having stood their ground at the final 48-hour declaration stage.
Rainbow View has been favourite for the £400,000 Group One event, run over the Rowley Mile, all through the winter following her dazzling first season which saw the Dynaformer filly unbeaten in four starts, including the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Ascot. Stan James currently offer Rainbow View at 11/10, with her trainer John Gosden seeking a second success in the 1000 Guineas following Lahan nine years ago.
Another unbeaten filly in the line up is the Rae Guest-trained Serious Attitude, the 5/1 second favourite with Stan James. The Mtoto filly, who cost just 7,500 guineas as a yearling, won all her three starts in 2008 culminating with a half-length victory over Aspen Darlin in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on October 3.
Rae Guest, trainer of Serious Attitude, reported today: “Last Saturday she did a really nice gallop and had a little blow on Thursday. Now she is ticking over until the race.
“She was a Group One-winning two-year-old and that’s top of the tree. This year, she has to prove that she is a Group One horse again but she has done nothing wrong and we are very pleased with her. We don’t know how everybody else is but she is in great form.
“We had Aldbourne who was third in the 1000 Guineas (1989) but this one has more class. I think we have got a great chance.
“She won the Cheveley Park on good to firm. It won’t be any quicker than that on Sunday and she is a lovely actioned filly.
“The owner (Derek Willis) has had some decent horses in the past but nothing of this calibre and he is very excited about it - walking his box - I wouldn’t like to be training him!”
There are five contenders from Ireland, including Cuis Ghaire, from the Jim Bolger stable, triumphant two years ago with Finsceal Beo. The Galileo filly, a 10/1 chance with the sponsors, won three of her five starts in 2008, including the Group Three Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and chased home leading stanjames.com 2000 Guineas contender Rip Van Winkle in the Group Three Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown. Aidan O’Brien, seeking a second 1000 Guineas success following Virginia Waters in 2005, has one contender this year in Heart Shaped who finished fifth behind Serious Attitude in the Cheveley Park Stakes last season while David Wachman supplies two contenders - the Group One Moygalre Stud Stakes victor Again and Pursuit Of Glory, who was a fast-finishing third in the Cheveley Park Stakes. The fifth Irish-trained runner is Shimah, trained by Kevin Prendergast, who has won two of her three starts and finished the half-length runner-up behind Again in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Lahaleeb created a favourable impression when successful in Group Three company at Newbury on April 18, when she defeated Super Sleuth by a head. The Mick Channon-trained filly is already a winner on the Rowley Mile, having taken the Group Two Countrywide Steel & Tubes Rockfel Stakes on October 18 when she proved two and a quarter lengths too strong for Aspen Darlin.
Barry Hills, who celebrated his 300th Newmarket winner at the Craven Meeting, runs the unexposed Ghanaati who was last seen out when the impressive six-length winner of a Kempton maiden in October. Hills is chasing a second 1000 Guineas success, following Enstone Park’s victory 31 years ago.
Godolphin can boast two previous 1000 Guineas wins with Cape Verdi (1998) and Kazzia (2002) and is represented this year by Devotee, who was campaigned at Nad Al Sheba over the winter months and was successful in the Listed UAE Oaks on dirt.
Veteran Newmarket handler Clive Brittain runs Nashmiah, who got the better of the colts on her seasonal reappearance in the Listed Spring Cup at Lingfield in March. The Elusive Quality filly will be bidding to follow in the footsteps of Brittain’s past 1000 Guineas heroines Pebbles (1984) and Sayyedati (1993).
Completing Sunday’s line-up are European Free Handicap third Penny’s Gift from the Richard Hannon stable and the Paul Cole-trained Seradim.
THE stanjames.com 1000 GUINEAS
Class 1, Group 1 Race, Total Prize fund £400,000. Newmarket, 3.15pm, Sunday, May 3, 2009, one mile. For three-year-old fillies only. Entries closed March 3, entries revealed March 4 (65 entries). First scratchings deadline noon, April 21 (26 remained).Six-day confirmation and £30,000 supplementary stage noon, April 27 (20 remained). Final declarations to be made by 10.00am, Friday, May 1 (15 declarations). Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Thursday, April 30, 2009. May not include some overseas form.
Form Horse Owner Trainer/Jockey/Draw
1) 001110- AGAIN (IRE) Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier David Wachman IRE/Ryan Moore (2)
2) 051122- ASPEN DARLIN (IRE) Indian Haven Syndicate Alan Bailey/Jimmy Quinn (11)
3) 11120- CUIS GHAIRE (IRE) Jackie Bolger & Harry Dobson Jim Bolger IRE/Kevin Manning Kevin Manning (14)
4) (1)(3)-(0)(1) DEVOTEE (USA) Godolphin Saeed bin Suroor/Frankie Dettori (7)
5) (3)(1)- GHANAATI (USA) Hamdan Al Maktoum Barry Hills/Richard Hills (8)
6) 310452-2 HEART SHAPED (USA) Michael Tabor, Sue Magnier & Betty Moran Aidan O'Brien IRE/Johnny Murtagh (10)
7) 114321-1 LAHALEEB (IRE) M Al-Qatami & K M Al-Mudhaf Mick Channon/Darryll Holland (4)
8) (4)01453-(1) NASHMIAH (IRE) Saeed Manana Clive Brittain/Jamie Spencer (13)
9) 202161-3 PENNY'S GIFT Malcolm & Penny Brown Richard Hannon/Richard Hughes (15)
10) (4)(1)3(0)- PURSUIT OF GLORY (IRE) Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier David Wachman IRE/Wayne Lordan (9)
11) 1111- RAINBOW VIEW (USA) George Strawbridge John Gosden/Jimmy Fortune (6)
12) 41034(1)- SERADIM The Fairy Story Partnership Paul Cole/Stephane Pasquier (1)
13) 111- SERIOUS ATTITUDE (IRE) Derek J Willis & Rae Guest Rae Guest/Pat Smullen (12)
14) 112- SHIMAH (USA) Hamdan Al Maktoum Kevin Prendergast IRE/Declan McDonogh (5)
15) 0252-2 SUPER SLEUTH (IRE) Lucinda Freedman Brian Meehan/Martin Dwyer (3)
Latest Stan James prices:
Rainbow View 11/10, Serious Attitude 5/1, Cuis Ghaire 10/1, Lahaleeb 12/1, Shimah 16/1, Ghanaati 16/1, Again 16/1, Heart Shaped 16/1, Nashmiah 25/1, Super Sleuth 33/1, Devotee 33/1, Pursuit Of Glory 33/1, Aspen Darlin 33/1, Penny's Gift 50/1, Seradim 66/1
TIKRAM TO RETURN TO THE SCENE OF HIS GREATEST TRIUMPH
CHELTENHAM’S SEASONS DRAWS TO A CLOSE WITH HUNTER CHASE EVENING ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 6
Another successful season at Cheltenham draws to a close on Wednesday, May 6, with the Hunter Chase Evening.
The Hunter Chase Evening always offers plenty of exciting action in a relaxed and jovial atmosphere.
A six-race programme kicks off at 5.35pm with the Amateur Jockeys Association Hunters’ Chase over an extended two miles, for which there are 24 entries, and concludes at 8.25pm with the Citroen C3 Picasso Hunters’ Chase, which has attracted 51 entrants.
Tikram won the Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase (now the Freddie Williams Festival Plate) at The Festival back in 2004 and his owner Rodger Sargent is relishing a return to Cheltenham in the Citroen C3 Picasso Hunters’ Chase with the evergreen 12-year-old.
Sargent said: “He had been retired for about three months and we sponsored a race in his honour at Fontwell in November. We took him to down there for the occasion and he was so well in himself that Gary suggested that we put him back in training.
“So we sent him to Di Grissell, who did a cracking job with him, and he bolted up in a point-to-point at Penshurst on April 4. It was a bit strange because it was the same day as the Grand National, which he had run in two years earlier.
“He went to Gary’s yard straight after that and seems in great nick. All of the Moore children have ridden Tikram at home and Josh will take the ride on Wednesday.
“He made his chase debut at Cheltenham and he has run some cracking races there over the years. Obviously, his big win was in the Mildmay Of Flete Challenge Cup in 2004 but he ran a cracker under Tony McCoy in the William Hill Trophy Chase the following year.
“Even his run in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup was a good effort and he didn’t disgrace himself against the best chasers around. Gary said that the only gig he missed was the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle because he ran in virtually every other race over fences and hurdles, while he also ran in the Cesarewitch and at Royal Ascot on the Flat.
“I ride him a lot at home and I was actually going to ride him on Wednesday but the problem was that I am not a very good jockey and Tikram is a very strong horse - he carted me off for two miles at Gary’s last year - so I decided to leave it to Josh on this occasion.
“He’s a fast ground horse and hopefully he will get his ground. If he could win at Cheltenham again, it would be fantastic and we may aim him at next year’s Christie’s Foxhunter Chase - there can’t be many horses who have raced at seven Festivals.”
Also on Wednesday’s programme is the £7,500 Cheltenham Champion Hunters’ Chase (6.10pm) which features another Festival winner, the 2008 Christie’s Foxhunter Chase victor Amicelli, among the 20 entries. The 10-year-old finished fourth in this year’s Christie’s Foxhunter Chase at The Festival and showed his liking for the course with a neck success over Baby Run (who finished third in this year’s Christie’s Foxhunter Chase) in the Blade Group Hunters’ Chase at the April Meeting.
The longest race of the evening is Winning Post at Cheltenham Hunters’ Chase over four miles and a furlong (7.55pm), for which there are 35 entries including Kingscliff, the 2003 Christie’s Foxhunter Chase hero.
The card is completed by the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Point-To-Point Championship Final Hunters’ Chase (6.45pm) and the Hunt Staff Benefit Society Colin Nash Memorial Hunters’ Chase (7.20pm).
For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink