Tag Archive for: Captain Guinness

Captain Guinness and Blackmore rise to the occasion in dramatic Champion Chase

Captain Guinness came out on top in a dramatic renewal of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, in which red-hot favourite El Fabiolo was pulled up.

Trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, the nine-year-old was sent off a 17-2 chance, with Willie Mullins’ El Fabiolo starting as the heavily-supported 2-9 market leader in the absence of supposed main rival Jonbon.

However, a jumping error led to Paul Townend’s mount being pulled up, and when the front-running Edwardstone fell two out – albeit when looking beaten – it was Captain Guinness who went on prevail, holding off El Fabiolo’s stablemate Gentleman De Mee in a real battle up the hill.

Captain Guinness and Rachael Blackmore in full flight
Captain Guinness and Rachael Blackmore in full flight (Adam Davy/PA)

Winning the race for the fourth time, De Bromhead said: “Obviously after El Fabiolo went you knew then that the race had opened right up and we felt we had a right chance then.

“Can mistakes happen more at the speed they go in this race, I don’t know.

“He had his thing at Christmas (fibrillating heart) and I just kept thinking the horse deserved to get his Grade One so much, to get this one is amazing.

“Everyone at home has done a fantastic job and the vets. The tests he went through after Christmas, his heart specialist was happy and the IHRB (Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board) was happy and everyone was. In fairness to Sam who looks after him, he hadn’t known him in such form.

“We took a view from Leopardstown in February we just wouldn’t train him hard and keep him fresh and happy and that’s what we did. We just wanted him really bullish and he’s been trying to buck Sam off for the last two weeks, so I’m not sure he was as happy with the plan as I was, but it’s worked out for us all now.”

He added: “We’ve been so lucky in this race, it’s such an exciting race. You can’t make any mistake really, it’s about speed and accuracy.

“Another year when we won it Douvan was odds-on for the whole year. You can’t be afraid of one horse, but you pick your spots. You don’t do it every day of the week, but this place is different.”

Blackmore was adding the Champion Chase to her glittering CV for the first time, also becoming the first woman to ride the winner of the race – as she is the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup.

“I could hear and see El Fabiolo make a mistake beside me, so I knew he was out of the equation then and your thinking changes, I suppose,” she said.

“It happened quite early on and we still had a long way to go, so I was just trying to ride from fence to fence, but it does change your brain a little bit for sure.

“The horse in front (Edwardstone) is such a good jumper, but my horse is a good jumper as well and and I didn’t want him to have it too easy in front.

“It was a long way up the hill after the last and I was glad we got to the line. I was trying to save and halfway up the hill I was thinking I hadn’t saved enough, but he’s an incredible horse.

“I’m not shocked because I thought his day would come, but at the same time I can’t believe it came.

Jockey Rachael Blackmore celebrates on Captain Guinness after winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
Jockey Rachael Blackmore celebrates on Captain Guinness after winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

“He ran so well here last year, I know he was beaten a long way but he still ran really well behind an incredibly talented horse (Energumene). He’s been in great form at home and when you’re riding for Henry around here this week, he does get them spot on.

“I was very hopeful coming into the race and I’m so delighted it’s happened for him on the biggest stage of all. I know Henry has won this race a few times, but I haven’t and it’s an incredible race to win.

“Sometimes it’s hard to let these things sink into you, it’s unbelievable.”

Willie Mullins suffered Champion Chase disappointment with El Fabiolo
Willie Mullins suffered Champion Chase disappointment with El Fabiolo (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mullins said: “I was very concerned that he reached for an early one and then stood back too far at the fence going away from the stands and didn’t get high enough.

“He got very low over a couple of them and I know he was a bit chancy before, but I was very concerned. He jumped the last one good and then of course he just stood back too far and didn’t get high enough. It’s very disappointing.”

He added: “I’m delighted for Henry and delighted for Rachael and our Gentleman De Mee ran a cracker, so we’re delighted.”

Alan King was thankfully able to confirm that Edwardstone was essentially fine following his fall.

He said: “He’s a bit shaken up but he’s OK, thankfully.

“He was in the process of running a solid race, but the winner cruised up as if he had just jumped in.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Grade One Rewards in Captain Guinness sights

Henry de Bromhead’s Captain Guinness will bid for a first Grade One success in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown on Wednesday.

The gelding is a consistent type who was second in a string of contests at the same level last season, including in this race behind Blue Lord 12 months ago.

He returned to action this term to win the Fortria Chase at Navan by an impressive seven lengths, a performance regular rider Rachael Blackmore regards as one of his best.

“Captain Guinness was brilliant in winning the Fortria Chase at Navan last month on his seasonal return. He jumped super. I think that it was one of the best performances of his life,” she told Betfair.

“It seems like he has been around for ages, but he is only eight, he could have improved again a little this season. He finished second in this race last year behind Blue Lord, and it would be great if he could go one better this year. He hasn’t missed a beat since Navan, and I’m sure he will put up another solid performance.

Captain Guinness and Rachael Blackmore
Captain Guinness and Rachael Blackmore (Damien Eagers/PA)

“He has won Grade Three races and Grade Two races, and he has finished second in Grade One races three times. He is such a consistent horse, he is such a favourite in the yard, it would be brilliant if he could get his Grade One win on the board here.”

Willie Mullins will saddle every one of the remaining four runners, with Dinoblue joined by Dysart Dynamo, Saint Roi and Gentleman De Mee.

The latter horse will be ridden by Paul Townend as he makes his seasonal debut and Mark Walsh will take the ride on Dinoblue, the apparent first string for owner JP McManus.

“Mark Walsh has opted to ride Dinoblue here. She made a winning start this year at Naas and gets 7lb so she is an improver,” Townend said in his blog for Ladbrokes.

“I have Gentleman De Mee who was a very good winner at the course at the Dublin Racing Festival last season.

Gentleman De Mee and Mark Walsh
Gentleman De Mee and Mark Walsh (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It is his first run back and his first run isn’t always his best, so that is a little concern. He is the highest-rated horse in the field.

“Captain Guinness beat Dysart Dynamo at Navan earlier this year and he will take a lot of beating with race fitness on his side. If my horse can run to his best, then we will see, I am really looking forward to riding him.”

Townend also rides Daddy Long Legs in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle, a Grade One contested over two miles that will be the chestnut’s second run for new connections.

Second in his sole French start before joining Mullins, he made an impression when winning a Thurles maiden hurdle by 13 lengths in late November.

“We have plenty of runners in this, but I picked Daddy Long Legs. I really liked what he did at Thurles,” Townend said of the ride.

“He quickened up really smartly down the hill. Down Memory Lane (Gordon Elliott) was very impressive in the north (Down Royal) and will take a lot of beating.

“There is a lot of depth in this race. I like the way my horse did it at Thurles. He is a very smart horse and is my best ride of the day.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

A Plus Tard pencilled in for Savills Chase return

Henry de Bromhead has indicated A Plus Tard is on course to make his comeback in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.

The chaser looked to have the world at his feet when sprinting clear to win the 2022 Gold Cup at Cheltenham, but things have not gone to plan since then.

He was pulled up on his first run since Gold Cup glory at Haydock and was then a late absentee last Christmas at Leopardstown. He made it back to defend his Cheltenham crown but was pulled up after being badly hampered by a faller.

A Plus Tard was last seen finishing third at Aintree to Shishkin and is expected to be joined by stablemate Envoi Allen in the Leopardstown feature.

“I hope both Envoi and A Plus Tard will run in the Savills,” said De Bromhead, speaking to Leopardstown Racecourse.

Envoi Allen won the Ryanair at Cheltenham in March
Envoi Allen won the Ryanair at Cheltenham in March (David Davies/PA)

“A Plus Tard schooled well the other day, he has another big piece of work coming up but he’s in good form, he seems really well.

“Envoi seems really well, he’s in great form. He ran really well at Down Royal so fingers crossed we get a clear run into the race and he’ll be able to put in a good performance.”

Another Grade One contender for the yard over Christmas is two-miler Captain Guinness, who swerved the Tingle Creek in preference for the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase closer to home on December 27.

“That’s the plan at the moment, we’d love to win a Grade One with him,” he said.

“He’s been brilliant, so consistent. Look, it’s a very good race but we’ll take our chance and see.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

De Bromhead opts for Leopardstown over Sandown with Captain Guinness

Henry de Bromhead had a change of heart with Captain Guinness and his two-miler will now run at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting instead of in Saturday’s Tingle Creek.

The eight-year-old made a winning return to action in the Fortria Chase at Navan and looked set to be the main challenger to Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon at Sandown.

However, with the Navan race only being three weeks ago, De Bromhead felt his charge would be better served with a longer break and he will instead remain closer to home for the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase on December 27.

“We changed our minds with Captain Guinness and decided to go to Leopardstown over Christmas instead. He is great and not a bother on him, but we went that route last year and said we’d stick to that,” said De Bromhead.

“The Leopardstown race is always good but with travelling and everything and it being just three weeks since the Fortria, we said we’d wait until Christmas.

“He was brilliant in the Fortria and we were delighted with him.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns