Ashroe Diamond on course to sparkle at Cheltenham

The Blue Blood Racing Club are relishing the prospect of Ashroe Diamond taking on some of the best mares around at the Cheltenham Festival, following her decisive Grade Two triumph at Doncaster last weekend.

Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by the handler’s son Patrick, last season’s Grade One scorer took a huge step forward from a third-placed return in the Hatton’s Grace to book her ticket to the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle in good style in the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle.

The seven-year-old easily got the better of Nicky Henderson’s well-regarded Under Control, with high-class stablemate Gala Marceau a place further back in third in South Yorkshire.

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Having been cruelly denied a run at the Festival at the 11th hour 12 months ago, connections are now hoping for a smooth run-up to Prestbury Park’s showcase meeting to enable a shot at a race that has always been high on the list of assignments for this term.

“It was a brilliant day and I suppose coming back in trip for her after the Hatton’s Grace was the key to her jumping well and Patrick was able to go forward a lot more,” said James Fenton who manages the Blue Blood Racing Club.

“Myself and Patrick discussed it about an hour before the race and he rode her textbook to the way we decided on – not a thing went wrong, which is great. You would have to be impressed with her and the way she did it so professionally.

“We have to go to the Mares’ now. She was unlucky not to get to Cheltenham last year and hopefully now, with the travelling over to Doncaster and back and stuff, she is a more settled mare in that regard and all roads now lead to Cheltenham.

“We said at the start of the season, when we decided not to go chasing with her, that she deserved another crack over hurdles and we would aim for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and work our way back.

“The run in the Hatton’s Grace brought her on to Doncaster and now we go on to Cheltenham and hopefully the plan is working – and that is all down to the great team at Closutton.”

While Ashroe Diamond was enhancing her reputation on Town Moor, Lossiemouth was laying down her own Mares’ Hurdle marker at Cheltenham with a blistering display in the Unibet hurdle.

The two Closutton inmates dominate the top of the Mares’ Hurdle market and, although highly respectful of Rich and Susannah Ricci’s Triumph Hurdle-winning starlet, Fenton is embracing the challenge competing in a Grade One event at the Festival will bring.

Ashroe Diamond with connections at Fairyhouse
Ashroe Diamond with connections after winning at Fairyhouse last season (Gary Carson/PA)



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He added: “Lossiemouth is a great mare who we are willing to take on and we will enjoy our day out.

“To have a mare good enough to take on the likes of Lossiemouth is brilliant and may the best mare win, that’s what the game is about.

“There is no point going over and just expecting to win everything at this level; you are going to have to take on the best and Lossiemouth is one of the best mares in training at the moment, so we will look forward to taking a cut at her, we won’t be running for cover.

“The build-up to it will be exciting now and all the members of the racing club are chuffed to bits to have a mare of that quality to go to a big race like that.

“To go to Cheltenham with a mare with a bit of a squeak and to get her into the first three would be amazing.”

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