Tag Archive for: Ashroe Diamond

No trip concerns for Festival favourite Lossiemouth

Willie Mullins’ Lossiemouth will bid for more Cheltenham glory as she leads the stable’s string in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

The grey was a highly impressive nine-and-a-half-length winner of the Unibet Hurdle on Trials day in January, defeating Love Envoi in a performance that brought the Champion Hurdle into question.

Connections ultimately decided to leave the mare with her own sex and she is completely dominant in the market as she steps up to two and a half miles for the first time.

She was a Festival winner last season when taking the Triumph Hurdle over two miles and a furlong, however, Mullins has few doubts about her ability to stay the extended trip.

“Lossiemouth was very good here on Trials day and most of my horses have been improving all season for their second run, so fingers crossed everything goes right for her,” he said.

Lossiemouth after winning the Unibet Hurdle
Lossiemouth after winning the Unibet Hurdle (Nigel French/PA)

“The race is two and a half miles, so we have to step up to that. I wouldn’t have any worries about it, Triumph Hurdle winners are normally stayers.”

The same stable also runs Ashroe Diamond, the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle winner last time out and the mount of Patrick Mullins.

“We’ve also got an able deputy in Ashroe Diamond as well, so hopefully we’ll get a result,” the trainer said of the mare.

Patrick Mullins added: “I think she has a huge chance and I think her form is against proper open class geldings.

“Lossiemouth is stepping out of the juvenile division which is hard.

Ashroe Diamond during her bumper career
Ashroe Diamond during her bumper career (Nigel French/PA)

“It’s a great position to be in as there is no pressure and I do think at the trip, she has a great chance of causing an upset.”

Gala Marceau is another entrant from the yard and will be ridden by Danny Mullins after two third-placed runs so far this year, in the Yorkshire Rose and the Quevega Mares Hurdle.

Gala Marceau and Lossiemouth had a season-long tussle last year, with the former getting her head in front in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown but the latter coming out on top during their three other meetings.

“I think it (the Yorkshire Rose) was a good return, she settled much better than she had on her debut last year, so that probably shows she’s a bit more mature mentally,” the jockey said.

“Physically we’ve seen at home that she’s improved that way and I think the trip will be her big thing come Cheltenham. What she showed us in Auteuil last year (winning the Prix Alain du Breil) got me excited.

Gala Marceau on her way to winning the Spring Juvenile Hurdle
Gala Marceau on her way to winning the Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Donall Farmer/PA)

“The way Lossiemouth won in Cheltenham, it’s hard to see what can beat her, but we were close on her tail last year I think at two and a half miles, hopefully we might be able to frighten her in some way.”

Love Envoi was second in the contest last season and is a previous Festival winner having landed the Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2022.

Her seasonal reappearance came in the Fighting Fifth, where she was second to Not So Sleepy, after which she was the runner up again behind Lossiemouth in the Unibet Hurdle.

She is proven on the ground, which is expected to be soft, and is stepping back up in trip for trainer Harry Fry and owners the Noel Fehily Racing Syndicate.

“She’s in fantastic form, we’re very happy with her, and we’re really looking forward to it,” said Fehily.

Love Envoi at Sandown previously
Love Envoi at Sandown previously (Steven Paston/PA)

“I think the ground will be perfect, I’d expect a big run from her tomorrow. She needed her first run and that was a big improvement the next time at Cheltenham over two miles and I’d expect her to improve again.

“Hopefully we can see something like her run last year at Cheltenham. The ground is ideal and I think she loves Cheltenham, it lights her up a little bit, we’re hopeful for a big run.”

Marie’s Rock was the winner of the race in 2022 and although she posted a below-par run last term, she has returned this season in good form for trainer Nicky Henderson.

Echoes In Rain is the fourth Mullins runner, with Henry de Bromhead fielding a team of three that comprises Telmesomethinggirl, Lantry Lady and Hispanic Moon.

The field is completed by Jamie Snowden’s You Wear It Well, winner of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the meeting last year, and Henderson’s Theatre Glory.

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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.

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)

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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Diamond sparkles in Yorkshire Rose heat

Ashroe Diamond showed her class to provide Willie Mullins with a third victory in the SBK Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster.

The Closutton handler had sent two of his best ever mares to Town Moor to plunder this Grade Two prize in the last decade, with the brilliant Champion Hurdle heroine Annie Power triumphant in 2014 and Vroum Vroum Mag landing short odds three years later.

This time around Mullins fired a twin assault, with 7-4 shot Ashroe Diamond considered the second string by punters as her stablemate Gala Marceau was sent off the 10-11 favourite.

Both had shown their worth at Grade One level, with Gala Marceau beating another Mullins mare in Lossiemouth at Leopardstown last year before the tables were turned in the Triumph Hurdle, while Ashroe Diamond was placed behind top-class geldings Facile Vega and Marine Nationale before enjoying her day in the sun at Fairyhouse in the spring.

Crucially, Ashroe Diamond had already run this winter with a third-placed finish in the Hatton’s Grace, whereas Gala Marceau had been off the track since doubling her top-level tally at Auteuil in May.

It was clear earlier in the home straight the former was travelling the better in the hands of the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins and once given the office, Ashroe Diamond picked up smartly to put the race to bed and score by two and a half lengths from the staying-on Under Control.

“What more could you ask for? I think my mare’s form with Facile Vega and Marine Nationale is the best mares’ form out there,” said Mullins junior, riding his first ever winner at Doncaster.

“She has a high cruising speed and she settled great today, she’s normally quite keen and you have to get a bit of cover with her.

“She’s always a brilliant jumper and she can often run a bit keen, but she has form against top geldings last year and I always rate that above juvenile form – that’s a restricted division.”

Ashroe Diamond was widely cut for the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and Mullins views her as a leading candidate.

He added: “Her pedigree suggests she can go further, but it’s two and a half miles in the mares’ race in March and that will be no problem to her.

“We won’t know until Cheltenham but I’d love to ride her there.”

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Festival hope Ashroe Diamond likely for Doncaster assignment

Ashroe Diamond is likely to tee up a Cheltenham Festival bid at Doncaster on January 27.

Willie Mullins’ top-class mare has the Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle as an aim as she finds herself ineligible from most races restricted to her sex in Ireland due to winning a Grade One last term.

She made a perfectly satisfactory comeback this season when third in the Hatton’s Grace against the boys at Fairyhouse.

“We were delighted with her first run back, she was one of the last to come in because of the cut she got in the Honeysuckle (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, at Fairyhouse in April),” said James Fenton who manages the Blue Blood Racing Club who own the mare.

“It was a bad enough cut, she needed staples in it and it was a bit of a mess and needed plenty of work.

“We are very limited in Ireland when it comes to Grade One-winning mares as they are omitted from a lot of the graded races.

“We’d have liked to have run her in the BeattheBank at Leopardstown over Christmas that Shewearsitwell won last season, but as a Grade One winner she couldn’t go in it.

“So we’re probably looking across the water and she’s going to be entered in Doncaster on the 27th (Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle) and the plan is to run at Cheltenham in the Mares’ Hurdle.

“She’s doing everything right at home and she’s a proper mare this year, we’re looking forward to getting her out.”

He went on: “She’s been kept in training because we think there’s more to come. I felt she was a little bit hard done by last year. She hasn’t made Cheltenham yet and when we discussed it I said there’s still a bit more there.

“We just felt she deserves one more year over hurdles, she is a Grade One winner already, there isn’t much to prove going over fences but I do think she’s good enough to win the Mares’ Hurdle and if she’s in the first three, we’ll be delighted.

“Myself, Willie, Patrick (Mullins) and David Casey will all have our views of the best route and when you have that kind of a team saying what you should be doing and where you should be going, you probably should be listening.”

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Diamond sparkles with Grade One verdict at Fairyhouse

Ashroe Diamond gained compensation for missing out on an appearance at the Cheltenham Festival with a dominant victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Honeysuckle Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Placed behind the top-class pair of Marine Nationale and Facile Vega in successive Grade Ones earlier in the season, the six-year-old went on to claim a Grade Three prize at Fairyhouse in January, ensuring she headed to the Cotswolds as a major contender for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – only to be ruled out on the morning of declarations.

Taking on several of those who did line up at Cheltenham, Ashroe Diamond was the 2-1 favourite to provide Willie Mullins with a sixth victory in the last 10 runnings of this Grade One contest and ultimately got the job done emphatically under an ice-cool ride from Paul Townend.

In a race run at a strong gallop from flag-fall, the market leader was buried in midfield for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey.

As the pacesetting Harmonya Maker faltered, 66-1 shot Whatcouldhavebeen made an eyecatching move to grab the lead and quickly took several lengths out of the field in a bid to cause a shock.

Townend, though, did not panic and Ashroe Diamond made up the ground comfortably between the final two flights, reeling in the leader and pulling five lengths clear on the run-in.

Willie Mullins claimed another Grade One prize with Ashroe Diamond
Willie Mullins claimed another Grade One prize with Ashroe Diamond (Tim Goode/PA)

Mullins’ assistant, David Casey, said: “She was very good, Paul said she did everything right.

“She got a bit keen, but she travelled like a dream and jumped brilliant. She did it very easy.

“Who knows what would have happened at Cheltenham, but it’s great to win today – it’s very important for the mares.

“Hopefully she’ll go forward next year. She got a nasty cut behind there and I’d say she’ll need a couple of stitches.”

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Ashroe Diamond set to sparkle for Mullins at Fairyhouse

Ashroe Diamond leads an eight-strong Willie Mullins team into battle in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Honeysuckle Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The champion trainer has saddled five of the last nine winners of the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One and appears intent on adding to his tally on Easter Sunday.

Ashroe Diamond looks the first string under Paul Townend, having won a Grade Three prize here before a late setback ruled her out of an intended appearance at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

Patrick Mullins, who partnered the six-year-old to a high-profile bumper success at Aintree last season, said: “It was unfortunate she didn’t get to run in Cheltenham, but she’s been 100 per cent since and she’s definitely the number one.

“She’s obviously won at Fairyhouse and we’d like to think on her previous form in Grade Ones behind Facile Vega and Marine Nationale she’ll be hard to beat.”

Ashroe Diamond is joined by Night And Day (Daryl Jacob), Eabha Grace (Conor McNamara), Got Glory (Jack Foley), Hauturiere (Brian Hayes), Lot Of Joy (Nico de Boinville), Nikini (Patrick Mullins) and Pink In The Park (Phillip Enright).

“Night And Day missed Cheltenham as well and she’s a very talented mare,” Mullins added.

“She ran in this last year first time out, so that shows what we think of her and hopefully she can fulfil her potential.

“Got Glory is a mare with a lot of ability, but it is going to be hard for her on her first Irish start, and I ride Nikini, who ran all right in Cheltenham but the ground could be against her.”

Magical Zoe winning at Down Royal
Magical Zoe winning at Down Royal (Brian Lawless/PA)

Henry de Bromhead would undoubtedly love to win a prize named after his recently retired stable star Honeysuckle, who dominated her rivals in this race four years ago.

The trainer’s main hope appears to be Magical Zoe, who filled the runner-up spot in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, with stablemate Rioga Choice an outsider.

Gordon Elliott’s trio of Halka Du Tabert, Harmonya Maker and Shecouldbeanything also feature, as does the Tony Mullins-trained Princess Zoe.

The latter finished fifth at Cheltenham and her trainer expects to see his Group One-winning mare in a better light stepping back up in distance.

He said: “If you take the Cheltenham run on face value, going up half a mile will be a big advantage to us, but now this is a Grade One and there’s no penalties we’re 5lb worse off with Magical Zoe.

“If the half-mile negates the 5lb we’re right in there. You have to decide whether you think it will or not and I think it will – I think the extra half-mile is crucial to Zoe.”

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Festival absentee Ashroe Diamond rerouted to Fairyhouse

Ashroe Diamond will head to Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday having been ruled out of the Jack De Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday morning.

Winner of the Grade Two mares’ bumper at Aintree last spring, Ashroe Diamond has taken well to hurdles this term, placing in both the Royal Bond and behind Facile Vega at Christmas, before scooping Grade Three honours in the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle in January.

That marked her out as Willie Mullins’ number one for the mares-only contest at the Cheltenham Festival and she was seen as one of the biggest dangers to hot favourite Luccia.

However, Mullins was unhappy with her prior to declarations on Tuesday, so she will now miss the Festival and be rerouted to the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final – a race the yard has won five times in the last 10 years, including in 2022 with Brandy Love.

“Willie wasn’t happy with her this morning so we’ve decided to wait for Fairyhouse,” said James Fenton, club manager for owners Blue Blood Racing.

“It’s disappointing, we know, and she was supposed to show well, but that’s horse racing and there’s plenty of ins and outs, so we will take it on the chin and look forward to the racing for the rest of the week now.”

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Solerina strike has sparked Festival dreams for Diamond team

Blue Blood Racing Club members are dreaming of Cheltenham Festival glory following Ashroe Diamond’s victory in the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained mare has already tasted Graded success in the UK when plundering the mares’ bumper at Aintree last April and had highlighted her hurdling credentials with a pair of respectable performances when third in both Punchestown’s Royal Bond and the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown earlier this season.

Sent off the even-money favourite at Fairyhouse, she proved she is one of the leading lights in the mares’ novice division by quickening up smartly off a sedate pace and galloping on strongly in the hands of Danny Mullins.

Ashroe Diamond after winning the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse
Ashroe Diamond after winning the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse (PA)

“It was a messy type of a race really,” explained James Fenton, club manager for Blue Blood Racing.

“No one seemed to really want to make it, Davy Russell went on and jumped the first hurdle and you could see he took a little look at the big screen and slowed the pace right down again. They all kind of stacked up then and we ran into a bit of trouble and got boxed in.

“She was full of running and we were kind of sweating a bit going down to the last, hoping she would be able to get out and when she did get out, she put her head down and found another gear compared to the rest of them.”

She will now head to Prestbury Park as one of the favourites for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and Fenton is confident Ashroe Diamond has the right credentials to strike again at one of the major UK meetings.

“We were very happy with the performance at Fairyhouse and I would be of the opinion that a faster run race will suit her more,” he continued.

“Left-handed at Cheltenham will also suit her along with a sounder surface. So we look forward to going to Cheltenham now in six weeks.

“We’re looking at the Mares’ Novices’ for her at the moment. She might get an entry in the County Hurdle as well, we’re not sure yet – we leave that to Willie.”

He went on: “I always watch them go round the bend to see how long it takes them to pull up and Ashroe Diamond went right through the line. She has that gear which she couldn’t get into with being boxed in, but once she got into that gear, she went on and Danny took a fair while to pull her up – he said she was awesome.

“The excitement is building now and all the members are looking forward to it. Most had booked tickets and accommodation previously, it’s going to be an exciting six weeks and plenty of sleepless nights for me hoping nothing goes wrong.”

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Connections hoping Diamond can sparkle at Fairyhouse

Ashroe Diamond bids to give Willie Mullins back-to-back victories in the Awardsandgifts.ie Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The six-year-old struck Grade Two glory in the mares’ bumper at Aintree’s Grand National Festival last spring and has continued to produce a fine level of form since transferring to hurdles this season.

Winner of a Naas maiden on her return, she has not been disgraced in a pair of Grade One events since, finishing third in both Punchestown’s Royal Bond and the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The daughter of Walk In The Park is second favourite for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and has the chance to lay down a marker for that contest in this Grade Three event.

“We are looking forward to running, she’s in good order and we’re happy with her at home,” said James Fenton, club manager for owners Blue Blood Racing.

“Danny (Mullins) is riding her because Paul (Townend) is going to Cheltenham to ride Energumene and Patrick (Mullins) can’t do the weight and we’re delighted to see Danny get the leg-up – he’s as good a rider out there.

“We go with confidence and if she can reproduce the form of her last two runs, we give her every chance.

Ashroe Diamond ridden by Patrick Mullins celebrates winning the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt at Aintree Racecourse
Ashroe Diamond ridden by Patrick Mullins celebrates winning the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt at Aintree Racecourse (Nigel French/PA)

“It is a very competitive field and they all demand plenty of respect, but we would be very confident with our mare.”

Mullins is also represented by Saylavee who was on the scoresheet in Listed company at Punchestown last month, while owner Kenny Alexander won this in both 2020 and 2021 with Honeysuckle and Minella Melody respectively and sees his colours carried by the unbeaten Gordon Elliott-trained Halka Du Tabert this time.

Jessica Harrington’s Jetara is related to Champion Hurdle hero Jezki and made a pleasing hurdles debut when chasing home High Definition at Leopardstown.

Before that she won a Listed bumper at Navan and also has a course victory to her name.

“She is a nice horse and she seems to go on a bit softer ground than most of her relations – I just think she’s a really nice horse,” said Harrington.

“Two miles, two and a half furlongs at Fairyhouse will suit her. She won a bumper there over two and a half, she’s won a bumper over two miles and then last time she ran over two miles and was staying on all the way, so I think the distance is about right for her.”

Jetara kept on gamely to win the Listed Coolmore N.H. Sires In Swoop Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race at Navan
Jetara kept on gamely to win the Listed Coolmore N.H. Sires In Swoop Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race at Navan (PA)

A bold showing on Saturday could see the five-year-old book her ticket to Prestbury Park in March – with Harrington confirming the Mares’ Novice is on Jetara’s agenda, provided she continues on her upwards curve.

“The Mares’ Novice is two-miles-one and they’ll go a good gallop,” added Harrington.

“She was all out over two miles in the Listed bumper and stayed on well, so we’ll go on Saturday and see what happens.”

Joseph O’Brien’s Goodie Two Shoes and Jarlath Fahey’s track-and-trip scorer Whatcouldhavebeen complete the line-up.

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