Tag Archive for: betfair ascot chase

Fakir D’Oudairies has McCoy smiling at Ascot

Sir Anthony McCoy admits he misses the big days, the good horses.

Still just a few seasons removed from the saddle, the 20-times champion used to don JP McManus’ famous green and gold hoop silks, now he represents the powerful owner as a spokesman on the big occasions like Betfair Ascot Chase day.

A man renowned for his dry wit, he was even caught cracking a smile when lifting the glass trophy that gallant Fakir D’Oudairies had landed in the Grade One feature on deep ground on Saturday.

“Don’t tell anyone!” quipped McCoy when told he’d smiled.

McCoy is becoming well versed in the art of saying something, but telling nothing. He smiles at that suggestion, too.

He had won this race “a few times – I can’t remember what on”.

“I do remember I won it on Tresor De Mai and he was one I didn’t think would ever win a Grade One,” added McCoy in more typical fashion.

Fakir D’Oudairies had him upbeat, however. The tempo of the two-mile-and five-furlong event was more than adequate for the conditions and Mark Walsh gave the Joseph O’Brien-trained seven-year-old a peach of a ride.

Though he got in close and had his momentum slightly slowed at the penultimate fence, he picked up and found a determination that saw him overhaul the game Two For Gold and gain a third top-level success.

Fakir D’Oudairies has had the misfortune to have come up against crack chaser Allaho and has been beaten by him in their last three clashes. They could lock horns again in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, although McCoy hinted that Aintree, where he won the Melling Chase last April, might be the plan.

“It was easier for him today. He is a good horse. He’ll go somewhere where he can win again,” said McCoy.

“It was nice for him to win. He is a good, tough horse. He is a credit and is a consistent horse and just keeps finding.

Tony McCoy (centre-left) is all smiles after lifting the Betfair Ascot Chase trophy
Tony McCoy (centre-left) is all smiles after lifting the Betfair Ascot Chase trophy (Simon Marper/PA)

“It looked a fairly run race and it is tiring ground and they are all entitled to make mistakes, aren’t they? He is a good, solid horse.

“You’d miss riding a horse like that, but I saw a few earlier in the day that I wouldn’t have missed riding!”

Fakir D’Oudairies is, like McCoy, a serious individual. An uncomplicated, ruthless grinder not known for an added gear, he is in equal parts dependable and persistent, a horse with a tattooed heart on his sleeve, giving his all.

“He is a consistent horse at a high level,” added McCoy. “It is hard when you run into good horses all the time like Allaho, and you are going to get beaten once in a while.”

Walsh took a page from the McCoy playbook. He was not going to be beaten, not today. The rider had suffered a family bereavement, and did well to just about keep his emotions in check after landing another Grade One.

Mark Walsh is interviewed after his Ascot success
Mark Walsh is interviewed after his Ascot success (Simon Marper/PA)

“Unfortunately I lost my uncle. He was a great racing fan and a great man, so I want to dedicate this race to him,” said Walsh.

“I thought I was going to win going to the second last, but he got underneath it and the horse in front got two lengths on him, but he put himself down very well and battled all the way to the line.

“The second horse didn’t stop and gave me a good battle all the way to the line, but luckily we came out on top.

“Joseph does a brilliant job with him at home, but he loves his racing and he is a little warrior and always battles like that. He is a great little horse to be associated with.”

The brilliance of these top-flight jockeys is an inane ability to pre-empt and change the plan mid-race. Walsh had to do exactly that.

Fakir D’Oudairies (right) edged out Two For Gold
Fakir D’Oudairies (right) edged out Two For Gold (Simon Marper/PA)

He explained: “I didn’t travel great coming up Swinley Bottom, the first two fences and coming up by the stands, I pulled him out to give him a bit of room and going down the hill, he started jumping a lot better and he got into position then.

“I was a lot happier going into Swinley Bottom the second time and just pulling him out and giving him a bit of room seemed to work.

“Once he starts putting in a few leaps like that, he starts enjoying it again.”

It was a big day in every respect for Walsh, a fact he acknowledged.

“Every winner is important – especially these Grade Ones – so I am delighted, “ he added.

This may have been a ho-hum race for McCoy among a glittering career but there is no question Fakir D’Oudairies is as good, if not better, than some of the winners of the race he had ridden.

“No question, he is tough and consistent,” said McCoy. “In fairness to him, his form figures are pretty good. He is more of a relentless galloper. He is a grand horse – you wouldn’t mind a few more like him. Or a lot like him!”

Cyrname out to reclaim Ascot title

Cyrname seeks to bounce back to his brilliant best as he bids for a second victory in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

Paul Nicholls’ nine-year-old became the highest-rated chaser in Britain thanks to his 17-length demolition in the Grade One contest in 2019, a position he consolidated when he got the better of Altior in a much-anticipated clash over the same course and distance early last season.

However, he subsequently failed to fire when hot favourite for the King George VI Chase at Kempton, and was already on the retreat when suffering a heavy fall at the final fence in defence of his Ascot Chase crown 12 months ago.

Cyrname returned with victory this season on his Charlie Hall Chase comeback at Wetherby in October – but having disappointed once more in the King George when pulled up on his latest appearance, he again has a point to prove on Saturday.

Cyrname on his way to victory over Altior at Ascot
Cyrname on his way to victory over Altior at Ascot (Simon Cooper/PA)

Nicholls told Betfair: “Harry Cobden has chosen to ride Cyrname, who looked so good at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall Chase before running way below expectations in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. He was half-asleep at the start that day and was never really travelling in behind horses.

“Harry felt Cyrname was sulking at Kempton, so we are trying cheekpieces to sharpen him up. When we tried them on him at home a week ago they had a positive effect and certainly woke him up. If they work as well at Ascot then he has to have a big chance over a trip and track that play to his strengths.”

Cobden is relishing the opportunity to get back on board Cyrname, whom he describes as “the horse of a lifetime”.

“When he won the race a couple of years ago, he was very, very good,” said the jockey.

“It was the best performance of any horse I’ve ever ridden around a racecourse – the way he jumped and travelled and beat all those good horses like Politologue, Waiting Patiently and Fox Norton. It was phenomenal, (and) I suppose that’s where he got his rating of 176.

“He’s the horse of a lifetime. Not very many people, riders or trainers, have horses like that come along in their life.

“I’ve won various races with him ,and hopefully he hasn’t won his last one – I’m sure he’s got plenty more in the tank.”

Master Tommytucker is a strong second contender for Paul Nicholls
Master Tommytucker is a strong second contender for Paul Nicholls (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Nicholls has an interesting second string to his bow in the form of Master Tommytucker, who will be ridden for the first time by Daryl Jacob.

The lightly-raced 10-year-old has not always convinced in the jumping department, but has got his act together this season to win three of his last four starts.

Nicholls added: “I’ve always rated him highly, and he has earned a shot at this Grade One level after some impressive performances this season. He is in serious order at home, working great, looks amazing – and everything is in place for a big run.

“While his jumping in the past was an issue, it was very good at Haydock and Cheltenham earlier in the season – and he was foot-perfect at Kempton last time, bar one blemish at the last fence.”

Jeremy Scott is looking forward to seeing how Dashel Drasher handles a step up in class.

The eight-year-old was a long way behind Master Tommytucker at Haydock in November, but has since registered back-to-back wins over this course and distance.

Dashel Drasher steps up in class but knows what it takes to win at Ascot
Dashel Drasher steps up in class but knows what it takes to win at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I’m relishing running him, because he seems well and he’s on a roll at the moment,” said Scott.

“His jumping is a lot better now, and he’s in rude health.

“First time out at Haydock, I think it was partly the ground and partly we rode him too conservatively – he’s proved the last twice that he suits being ridden positively. He was returning from an injury at Haydock, and we were a bit mindful of that.”

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Riders Onthe Storm ran out a wide-margin winner of last year’s renewal, but will defend his crown as an outsider after being well beaten in both his outings this season.

Twiston-Davies is undeterred, however.

Riders Onthe Storm is looking to repeat last year's victory
Riders Onthe Storm is looking to repeat last year’s victory (Julian Herbert/PA)

He said: “Riders Onthe Storm is coming into this in good nick. He obviously won the race last year, and we are hoping he can do it again.

“He hasn’t been at the same level this season, but he does seem in really good nick at the moment and should improve on what he has done.

“He won’t mind any more rain, because it was pretty testing last year.”

Bennys King from Dan Skelton’s yard, runner-up to Dashel Drasher last time, completes the line-up.