Tag Archive for: Crambo

Hopes high Teahupoo has what it takes for Stayers’ Hurdle gold

Teahupoo will look to strike when fresh in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle for Gordon Elliott at the Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old was beaten just three-quarters of a length in the same race last year and returned to action this season in good form to take the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle ahead of Impaire Et Passe at Fairyhouse in early December.

He has not run since then and is expected to benefit that as he is proven to go well after a brief break.

“We’re looking forward to Teahupoo in the Stayers’ and he seems in really good form,” said Robbie Power, racing manager to owner Robcour.

“It was a very good performance in the Hatton’s Grace and we’ve changed things up this year coming straight here.

Teahupoo after winning the Hatton's Grace
Teahupoo after winning the Hatton’s Grace (Brian Lawless/PA)

“The big thing for him is he’s a better horse when he’s fresh and all his runs after a 50-odd day break he has won. We think that is the key to him.

“He didn’t get the rub of the green in the race last year and hopefully if things go well this year he will take plenty of beating. He deserves to win a Stayers’ and we’re giving him every chance.”

Elliott also runs reigning champion Sire Du Berlais, who followed up last year’s victory with success in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.

Flooring Porter landed the race in both 2021 and 2022 before finishing fourth last season, after which he switched to jumping fences in the first half of the current campaign.

Flooring Porter winning the Stayers' Hurdle in 2022
Flooring Porter winning the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2022 (Steven Paston/PA)

He was not without success as a chaser but connections ultimately decided to return to the Stayers’ Hurdle in a bid for a third triumph and veto the alternative option of the National Hunt Chase.

“He’s in good shape and we’re looking forward to it. I hope the ground dries out a little bit, I hope it’s not too deep, so we’ll see what happens,” said trainer Gavin Cromwell.

“He’s had a few schooling sessions over hurdles and they’ve gone well, he’s a very intelligent horse so I don’t see it (switching from fences) being a problem.

“When you see what Corbetts Cross (facile National Hunt Chase winner) did on Tuesday I’d say we dodged a bullet there and we’re happy to be running in the Stayers’ again.”

The British challenge is led by Fergal O’Brien’s Crambo, winner of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot when last seen.

Fergal O’Brien stands with Crambo during a visit to his yard at Ravenswell Farm
Fergal O’Brien stands with Crambo during a visit to his yard at Ravenswell Farm (Adam Davy/PA)

The seven-year-old beat Paisley Park, Dashel Drasher and Champ on that occasion and looks to be on an upward trajectory in a career that has already yielded seven wins from 10 starts.

“He’s in great form, I’m very happy with him and he has trained very well,” said O’Brien.

“We’ve had a great preparation, he’s just improved and improved for us.

“He doesn’t show a lot at home, everything he’s shown us is what he’s shown on the track and we couldn’t be more pleased with him.

“He’s won on everything, he won on good ground at Ascot and he’s won on heavy at Sandown last year so I can’t see that as an issue for him.

“We’ve our fingers crossed he can get his head in front.”

Jeremy Scott's Dashel Drasher
Jeremy Scott’s Dashel Drasher (David Davies/PA)

Jeremy Scott runs the hugely popular Dashel Drasher, with Emma Lavelle also set to saddle a fan favourite in the 12-year-old Paisley Park.

Winner of the race in 2019, he has run every year since and finished in third place in both 2021 and 2022.

Willie Mullins has three chances, with Sir Gerhard seemingly the leading hope as the mount of Paul Townend, while Asterion Forlonge will be ridden by Patrick Mullins and Janidil by Jody McGarvey.

Emmet Mullins’ Noble Yeats, the 2022 Grand National hero, will be partnered by Harry Cobden again after the duo beat Paisley Park to land the Cleeve Hurdle in January.

Joseph O’Brien runs Home By The Lee, with the field of 12 completed by Paul Gilligan’s Buddy One, three times a winner already this season.

“He seems to like this course and he has travelled over really well,” Gilligan said.

“He seems well in himself and although it is a big step up, I’m very happy with him and I think he will run with a lot of credit. I think he will run very well.”

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Fergal O’Brien desperate to put a Festival winner on the board

Fergal O’Brien has been one of the most upwardly mobile trainers in recent years yet despite racking up the winners, there is one particular itch that he would love to scratch.

O’Brien, who trains locally to Cheltenham, has still to taste success at the four-day Festival and admits the fact he has yet to do so is beginning to annoy him.

However, he is sending his two stable stars to the meeting this year and is happy to take on the Irish battalion with Crambo in the Stayers’ Hurdle and Dysart Enos in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Speaking on a press visit to his yard O’Brien said: “I woke up this morning and thought I’ve 25 or 30 people coming, I could do without this on a work day two weeks before Cheltenham, but actually it’s what we do it for.

“We’re really excited. The Cheltenham Festival has been part of my life for the last 30 years and it’s the best week.”

O’Brien has finished second with the likes of Barney Dwan, Cap Soleil, Imperial Alcazar and Alaphilippe, with a couple of those in agonising photographs. But the near-misses have made him even more determined to stand in the hallowed enclosure as a winner.

“We went there two years ago with Imperial Alcazar and Alaphilippe and we’ve had exactly the same prep. We came away from both of those races having finished second, so disappointed they didn’t win, but not disappointed because we’ve had a great run-up to the race and if they get beaten they get beaten.

Crambo (left) and Punctuation on the going through their paces on the gallops
Crambo (left) and Punctuation on the going through their paces on the gallops (Adam Davy/PA)

“All I know is if Crambo and Dysart Enos turn up in the form that they’ve been in since we’ve had them, whatever beats them is going to be a good horse and they deserve to win, so that’s where we are.

“We’ve had four Festival seconds, but I’d rather be finishing second than finishing nowhere. Hopefully we can put it right this year.

“It’s definitely a box that we have to tick and something that we need to do. Hopefully this year will be our year and if it’s not hopefully it will be next year – we’ll keep going.

“We’ve got great facilities, great staff and fantastic owners. I was with Nigel Twiston-Davies for 18 years and I’ve been in the game long enough to know that we’ve got all the ingredients here, we just need the right horse on the right day and hopefully it will be this year on Thursday, March 14!”

Paddy Brennan celebrates on Dysart Enos at last year's Grand National meeting
Paddy Brennan celebrates on Dysart Enos at last year’s Grand National meeting (David Davies/PA)

O’Brien has had a great ally since starting out on his own in Paddy Brennan, his old mucker from the Twiston-Davies days.

“It would be great for Paddy to ride our first Festival winner, but I think Crambo (who will be ridden by Jonathan Burke) is first and I don’t care which one of them wins!” he said.

“I’d be delighted for Paddy if we could get him a Festival winner, that would actually mean the world to us, to everyone here, he’s been such a big part of Ravenswell growing.

“He’s been a huge part of all of this here and hopefully whenever he decides to retire, I’m hoping he’ll still be a big part of Ravenswell Farm. He’s got a great eye for a horse, he’s an unbelievable race planner and is great with the other jockeys, so fingers crossed there’ll be a role there for him somewhere.”

Dysart Enos looked in good form at O'Brien's Ravenswell Farm
Dysart Enos looked in good form at O’Brien’s Ravenswell Farm (Adam Davy/PA)

O’Brien’s has not always been the sole name on the licence, for a short spell he joined forces with fellow trainer Graeme McPherson and the winners flowed. McPherson then went back on his own following an amicable split.

“We had a great time for a couple of years with Graeme and the numbers were there to show it – we had 141 winners last season, but spread over two sites it was very difficult, so it is much better,” said O’Brien.

“We’ve got a new barn here now and it’s fantastic. It works well, we’ve got some great staff and it’s just much easier having it all in the same place.

“When we came here we thought we might have 50 or 60 horses and tip away, but it’s gone well, it’s a great place to train. It’s a very simple routine and it works for us. Fingers crossed long may that last.”

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Best of British at this year’s Festival

As ever, much of the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival has surrounded the dominant position of Irish trainers compared to their British counterparts. But despite the huge hole left by the absence of Constitution Hill, all might not be as bad as it seems for the home team, who appear to have some pretty solid chances.

Here, we take a look at some of the best of them:

Grey Dawning (Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, Wednesday/Turners Novices’ Chase, Thursday)

Grey Dawning has taken to fences well
Grey Dawning has taken to fences well (Nigel French/PA)

A useful novice hurdler last season, he won a Grade Two at Warwick but later fell in Grade One company at Aintree, so we never got to see how he compared to the best. As a result, he began this season a little under the radar but shaped nicely first time out when a close third to Stay Away Fay at Exeter. He then won easily at Haydock and should have beaten Ginny’s Destiny at Cheltenham but for an almighty blunder two out. His performance in easily beating Apple Away and Broadway Boy at Warwick marked him out as a real contender to take on Fact To File in the Brown Advisory, or Dan Skelton could still switch to the Turners to avoid that hot favourite.

Ginny’s Destiny (Turners Novices’ Chase, Thursday)

Ginny’s Destiny has followed a similar route to stablemate Stage Star
Ginny’s Destiny has followed a similar route to stablemate Stage Star (Nigel French/PA)

Quite incredibly, Stage Star’s win in the corresponding race last season was champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ first at the meeting for three years and Ginny’s Destiny could repeat the dose. He has followed a very similar route to the race and, just like Stage Star, the theme of his performances has been putting his rivals under pressure with accurate jumping. Whatever beats him will have to put in a near-perfect round of fencing to get him out of rhythm.

Crambo (Stayers’ Hurdle, Thursday)

Crambo (right) has taken a big leap forwards this season
Crambo (right) has taken a big leap forwards this season (Steven Paston/PA)

Could this be the year that Fergal O’Brien finally breaks his Festival duck? He has come close on numerous occasions, albeit mostly in handicaps. But this season he is heading there with some top-class prospects. Crambo is already a Grade One winner, seeing off the veteran Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, after which he was put away to ensure he arrives at his local track at the peak of his powers. In a wide-open year, Crambo has plenty going for him.

Dysart Enos (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, Thursday)

Dysart Enos has impressed in remaining unbeaten
Dysart Enos has impressed in remaining unbeaten (Simon Marper/PA)

If Crambo is unable to provide O’Brien with a first winner at the Festival, then maybe it will be Dysart Enos. The mare sprang to prominence when she lowered the colours of Queens Gamble in a Market Rasen bumper, where the consensus was the favourite had under performed. The way Dysart Enos then bolted up at the Grand National meeting proved that was not the case. Cleverly campaigned this season to avoid picking up a penalty, she might just have a bit too much speed for the Irish mares, who have been winning in heavy ground all season.

Sir Gino (Triumph Hurdle, Friday)

Sir Gino created a massive impression at Cheltenham
Sir Gino created a massive impression at Cheltenham (Nigel French/PA)

You could not find a horse who looks less like a juvenile hurdler than this fellow – but he can really motor. While he may look more like a three-mile chaser than a sharp two-mile hurdler, he made a Royal Ascot winner in Burdett Road look rather pedestrian on Trials day, sprinting clear after the last. In most of the last few Triumph Hurdles, Willie Mullins has held the nap hand. This year, however, Sir Gino is set to be a red-hot favourite and there will be long faces at the Seven Barrows yard of Nicky Henderson if he is beaten.

Shishkin (Gold Cup, Friday)

Shishkin is trying hard to rid himself of his bad boy image
Shishkin is trying hard to rid himself of his bad boy image (Adam Davy/PA)

Given the manner of Shishkin’s last two victories, at Aintree in April and Newbury last month, grinding out wins over three miles, it is hard to fathom how he had the speed to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and an Arkle in his youth. What happened in between those races also casts aspersions on his character, as he refused to race at Ascot and looked a little recalcitrant at the start of the King George. However, when he did hit top stride at Kempton, he showed the size of his engine remains intact when still in front two out – before unfortunately tripping up on landing. He rattled home when second in the Ryanair last year but did not look happy throughout and a year earlier he was pulled up early in the Queen Mother, so it is to be hoped there are no mental scars of Cheltenham.

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O’Brien expects Crambo to make his mark in clash with staying stalwarts

Fergal O’Brien is confident Crambo possesses all the necessary tools to make his presence felt in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The seven-year-old is very much the new kid on the block in the staying division over the smaller obstacles, kicking off his campaign with a handicap victory at Aintree.

He had to make do with minor honours on his next start at Haydock, but fully justified his trainer’s decision to throw him in at the deep end after coming out on top in a titanic tussle with popular veteran Paisley Park in the Long Walk at Ascot the following month.

Speaking at Jockey Club press morning at his Ravenswell Farm yard, O’Brien issued an upbeat bulletin on Crambo’s well-being ahead of his bid for Festival glory in little over a fortnight’s time.

“Crambo is not a great workhorse, but he does everything very well and he’s very fresh after his work, which is what you want to see,” he said.

“He’s got a great temperament. He hasn’t won round Cheltenham yet, but fingers crossed he can go there and be our first Festival winner.

“You look at the likes of Paisley Park and all those (Stayers’ Hurdle) horses, that’s their one common denominator – they always have that little flat spot.

“In the Long Walk, it was actually the best I’ve seen Crambo travel and jump. He’s normally a bit behind the bridle and he’s made it hard work for Connor (Brace) on a few occasions.”

Crambo on the gallops during a visit to Fergal O’Brien’s yard
Crambo on the gallops during a visit to Fergal O’Brien’s yard (Adam Davy/PA)

Crambo came up short in a couple of Grade One assignments last season, but O’Brien insists he never lost faith.

He added: “We’re very lucky to have him and we always hoped he would develop the way he has. As a novice we ran him in two Grade Ones, in the Challow Hurdle, where it never happened for him in wet ground, and then we took him to Aintree after he won the EBF Final at Sandown.

“He was running a big race at Aintree and I think he would have been fourth, but Rachael Blackmore’s horse (Cool Survivor) fell in front of him and that sort of stopped him.

“I always believed in the horse, he won first time up this year at Aintree and then we were a little bit unlucky at Haydock. We could have gone down the Pertemps route, but I really wanted to have a crack at another Grade One and his owners were happy to go to the Long Walk.”

While many of his Festival rivals went on to contest the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January, O’Brien decided to keep his powder dry with Crambo and is relishing the challenge.

He said: “He had a hard race at Ascot and it took him a couple of weeks to get over it and get his spark back, but Eve who rode him this morning knows him inside out and she’s delighted with him.

“I’d love to be able to tell you he’s very difficult to train, but he’d train himself. Johnny Burke took him to Lambourn on Friday and jumped 10 or 12 hurdles and he said he felt great, so I’m really happy with where he is.

“I think Cheltenham will suit him, to be fair. I think it will bring out a little bit more improvement and he does need to improve again from the Long Walk.”

Fergal O’Brien has high hopes for Crambo
Fergal O’Brien has high hopes for Crambo (Adam Davy/PA)

Assessing the likely opposition, he added: “Gordon’s (Elliott) two horses at the head of the market (Teahupoo and Irish Point) are two very good horses and there’ll be plenty of others there.

“Dashel Drasher will be there, Paisley Park will be there, Emmet Mullins’ horse (Noble Yeats) and I’m not sure what Gavin Cromwell is doing with Flooring Porter.

“They’ve all been there and done it and got the T-shirt, but Crambo’s got youth on his side and we think he’s a very good horse, so fingers crossed.”

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Crambo to be kept fresh for Stayers’ Hurdle tilt

Fergal O’Brien is happy with his plan to send Long Walk hero Crambo straight to the Stayers’ Hurdle, as he begins to step up his star performer’s work ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

Owned by Jared Sullivan and Chris Giles, the seven-year-old advertised his potential with some fine performances in handicap company, including when winning last year’s EBF Final at Sandown.

However, he announced himself as a major player in the staying division when outbattling the stalwart Paisley Park to claim Grade One honours at Ascot prior to Christmas.

Crambo is as short as 6-1 for Cheltenham success in the spring, but while some of his Stayers’ Hurdle counterparts will tune-up for Festival action in Saturday’s Cleeve Hurdle, O’Brien is content to prepare his charge at his Ravenswell Farm base.

“Crambo is in great form and he had a hard race at Ascot, so he’s just stepping up his work again and tipping away,” said O’Brien.

“Eve, who looks after him and rides him, is very happy with him and he actually did his first piece of work on Saturday since he won and we were very happy with him.

“He was in a proper battle with those boys at Ascot and he doesn’t need to do that again until Cheltenham, so fingers crossed he will turn up at Cheltenham in the same form as Ascot and do the job for us.

“What I loved about Ascot was he jumped the last and looked like he was going to go away and win and Paisley Park thought ‘I’m not giving this up’ and actually got back ahead of him.

“Five or six strides from the line, he managed to get back in front and started to go away again, so it will give him huge confidence and give Johnny (Burke, jockey) confidence in him.

“He doesn’t show anything at home but he just has a fantastic will to win.”

O’Brien is still to taste success at National Hunt’s showpiece meeting but will head to Prestbury Park with one of his strongest hands to date, as alongside Crambo, he is also poised to saddle Dysart Enos, who is one of the leading fancies for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Dysart Enos will head to Doncaster on Sunday
Dysart Enos will head to Doncaster on Sunday (Simon Marper/PA)

The Grade Two bumper winner has maintained her unbeaten record since switching to timber this term and is in line to complete her Festival preparations at Doncaster on Sunday in the Download The At The Races App Novices’ Hurdle.

“She hopefully goes to Doncaster on Sunday for just an ordinary novice,” continued O’Brien.

“Fingers crossed, she can have a nice clear round there, do her job and then go to Cheltenham.

“She wouldn’t be able to wait until Cheltenham, it would be too long for her, but we’ve been very happy with her.”

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Crambo may take direct route to Festival

Fergal O’Brien’s Crambo could head straight to the Cheltenham Festival after doing his connections proud in the Long Walk over the festive period.

The seven-year-old claimed Grade One glory at Ascot on December 23 after coming out on top in a titanic tussle with staying stalwart Paisley Park.

The extended three-mile contest was rightly hailed as one of best of the races season so far and victory was particularly meaningful to former jockey Noel Fehily, who bred the winner and is the racing manager to owner Chris Giles.

Fehily also did the early work with Crambo and takes him for pre-training ahead of each season, meaning his involvement with the promising stayer runs even deeper still.

The Saddler Maker gelding is currently a 10-1 chance for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival in March and may not run again beforehand.

“Crambo is doing well, I’m presuming he’ll go straight to Cheltenham, but I’ve yet to talk to Fergal about it,” Fehily said.

“It was great to see him do that, that was a mighty race between him and Paisley Park – we were very happy with him.

“I bred him and I had the mare, so it’s lovely to see one you’ve known from day one go and win at that level.

“We broke him, pre-trained him, we pre-train him every year before he goes back to Fergal’s.

“He’s an absolute joy to deal with, he’s a dude of a horse. He goes out, does his thing, he’s so straightforward.”

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Crambo denies Paisley Park in pulsating Long Walk

Crambo came out on top in a breathtaking battle of the ages with Paisley Park to claim Howden Long Walk Hurdle glory at Ascot.

Paisley Park was bidding to match the brilliant Baracouda’s record of four wins in the Grade One contest over an extended three miles.

But the popular 11-year-old just had to give way to Crambo – five years his junior, who was providing trainer Fergal O’Brien with just his second elite-level success.

Dashel Drasher set off in his customary prominent position, but there was little more than a few lengths covering all 10 runners at the halfway stage.

With four flights left to jump, it was noticeable that Paisley Park was lying handier than has often been the case and Tom Bellamy threw down a challenge between the last couple of hurdles.

However, Jonathan Burke made his move at the exact same time and the pair jumped the final obstacle together before settling down for a ding-dong battle on the run-in.

It was impossible to predict the outcome until close home, when 5-1 chance Crambo edged in front by a short head to give O’Brien a first Grade One triumph since Poetic Rhythm in 2017.

“He never knows he’s beat,” said O’Brien. “The horse is still very young and I can’t believe he is here winning a Grade One – I could tell two furlongs out he was going to get there.

A big smile from winning jockey Jonathan Burke
A big smile from winning jockey Jonathan Burke (Steven Paston/PA)

“He’s a bull of a horse, Noel Fehily bred him with Jared (Sullivan, co-owner) and Noel always has him home and pre-trains him and has done a great job with him.

“He’s unique, Noel was telling me today he was two weeks’ premature and the mum foaled herself and he is just one of those – you honestly wouldn’t know he was in the place at home, he’s so straightforward.

“We took him away a couple of weeks ago because I wanted Johnny to have a sit on him and because I didn’t want Johnny to get to the races and think, ‘I’m not getting much of a feel here’, because that is just Crambo.

“He said he didn’t give him much of a feel, but I said just trust him on the day and that is what he did – and I can’t thank Johnny enough, he’s given him a fantastic ride.”

O’Brien had taken the tough decision to choose Burke ahead of Crambo’s regular rider Connor Brace.

He added: “Johnny has been riding in Grade Ones since he was 18 years of age. It was my decision, I’ve never hidden behind the owners and I just felt coming here today, I needed to tick all the boxes.

“Connor has done a fantastic job and to be honest, Connor has made this horse over the years.

“This horse hasn’t arrived here today the finished article, this is down to what Connor and all the team at home have put into him, which is what you see today.”

Crambo was cut to 8-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham by Betfair, Coral and Paddy Power.

“I’m very lucky that I have very good owners and I will speak to them when I get home, and speak to Neil (Jukes, race planner), who does our entries, and see where we go.

“I personally don’t think he needs another run before Cheltenham, but we will see.

“We’ll take it one race at a time and it’s only my second Grade One and I’ve been training 12 years. It’s been a long time between drinks and the first one was very important to me because it belonged to Chris Cooley, who I wouldn’t be here without and I’m absolutely delighted.”

Winning jockey Burke added: “The last time he tried Graded company, he finished about seventh, so it was obviously a big step up and he needed to step up and thankfully he did.

Howden Christmas Racing Weekend – Day Two – Ascot Racecourse
Runners and riders during the Howden Long Walk Hurdle (Steven Paston/PA)

“He travelled through the race great, jumped brilliant and his jumping was probably as slick as ever – and he battled well from the back of two out.

“It all went smoothly and I got a lovely position and his jumping kept me there. I was kind of wary of him hitting a flat spot but that never happened and as soon I straightened up, myself and Paisley had a great battle and it was kind of what the race was set up to be – those older horses against the young ones coming through.

“He’s definitely thrown his name into the staying hurdling division now. If he keeps improving on what he has done today, then he will surely be a force to be reckoned with.”

On replacing Brace, Burke said: “I’m there to do a job and get on the horse and ride him. You can get distracted by all the stuff beforehand but once you get on the horse’s back, it’s just another race.

“He travelled and jumped great and from the bottom of the straight he was always going to battle. It’s what we do it for, these Saturdays and the Graded races, so it is great.”

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Kamsinas on course for trip to Aintree

Fergal O’Brien’s Kamsinas could head in the direction of the Formby Novices’ Hurdle after a smart Graded success at Haydock on Saturday.

The six-year-old won first time out this season and then headed to Cheltenham for the Grade Two Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle last month, in which he finished second when beaten by a nice horse in Neil King’s Lookaway.

At Haydock, he was a 16-5 chance for the Betfair Racing Podcasts Newton Novices’ Hurdle, another Grade Two, and travelled in midfield for much of the contest under Paddy Brennan, while producing a neat round of jumping.

The bay then took up the lead three hurdles from home and held off all of his rivals to secure a pleasing length and a quarter success for owners Noel Fehily Racing.

“I was delighted with him, he did it very well and travelled and jumped beautifully,” O’Brien said.

Betfair Chase Day 2023 – Haydock Park Racecourse
Kamsinas touching down at Haydock (Nigel French/PA)

“We were over the moon with him, fingers crossed he can keep going forward and progressing.

“He was very unlucky in his first bumper when he got brought down, then he came back and won a bumper.

“By the time he ran with a penalty, he’d been in a long time, but he won first time out this year. He was a bit unlucky at Cheltenham, he finished second and then went and won on Saturday, so he has been very consistent.”

The Grade One Formby Novices’ Hurdle, previously known as the Tolworth, is now up for discussion as its new location at Aintree is expected to suit the French-bred gelding.

“I’ve got to clarify it with Noel and David Crosse from Noel Fehily Racing, but it seems the obvious route,” O’Brien said of the race.

“With the Tolworth being moved to Aintree and Aintree being pretty similar to Haydock, it should suit.

“The timing is right, so it’s the obvious place.”

O’Brien has another promising hurdler on his hands in Crambo, third in the Betfair “Serial Winners” Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at the same Haydock meeting.

Crambo and Connor BRace at Aintree
Crambo and Connor Brace at Aintree (Tim Goode/PA)

The six-year-old is a two-time bumper winner who has always looked to have a good deal of ability over hurdles too, having won four times over the obstacles before starting at Haydock.

Crambo was a 5-1 chance under Connor Brace and though the pair found themselves too far back to mount a winning challenge in the closing stages, the gelding still caught the eye when running on to finish strongly in third.

Discussions will now be had as to whether the bay contests more handicap contests or steps up to a Graded event on his next start.

“I was delighted with him, he tried very hard and just didn’t get any luck in running,” O’Brien said of the horse.

“It’s no surprise to be beaten by two well handicapped Irish horses, I’ve got to speak to the owners and decide if we try a Graded race or go down the handicap route.”

The Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival has been mentioned and is a viable target, with connections ultimately having to decide whether to take aim at the race this term or wait until next season.

O’Brien said: “I definitely think he’s up to it, it’s whether we are a year too soon or not. I need to discuss it with the owners and the lads in the yard and see where we think we should go.”

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Crambo hits back of the net for O’Brien in EBF Final

Crambo came out on top after a pulsating finish to the EBF Final at Sandown.

A dual bumper winner at Huntingdon last season, Fergal O’Brien’s charge picked up where he left off when making a successful hurdling debut at Ascot in November.

The six-year-old was pulled up in the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury on New Year’s Eve, but a subsequent wind operation appeared to do the trick as he comfortably bounced back to winning ways at Bangor last month to earn himself another step up in grade in this £80,000 novices’ handicap.

Ridden positively from flag-fall by Connor Brace, Crambo disputed the early running before moving into a clear lead heading out onto the second circuit.

The 15-2 chance looked like he might have to make do with minor honours after being challenged and passed by Inneston early in the home straight, but Brace never panicked and his mount rallied bravely on the run-in to get back up and score by half a length.

O’Brien said: “Connor gets on very well with the horse and we’ve never got to the bottom of him.

“Even when the horse passed him today, we hadn’t given up as we knew he’d dig in. He did it Ascot, where he had to grind it out and won cosily in the end, and at Bangor the other day it was the same.

“I wouldn’t say he won cosily today, but he got the job done under a very good, positive ride. I’m delighted for Connor as he deserves his chance and he’s taken it today.

“I’ll have to speak to the owners and we’ll make a plan. I think the ground is important to him – he wouldn’t want it quick. There’s probably something at Aintree for him if it came up soft enough.”

Larchmont Lass and Harry Cobden at Sandown
Larchmont Lass and Harry Cobden at Sandown (Steven Paston/PA)

Larchmont Lass lunged late to secure Listed honours in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Previously placed at Ascot and Wincanton, the Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old was a 9-2 shot stepping up in class in the hands of Harry Cobden.

Casa No Mento battled bravely in front in an attempt to preserve her unbeaten record, but she was unable to resist the thrust of Larchmont Lass, with a neck separating the pair at the line.

Nicholls, like Cobden completing a double following the Imperial Cup victory of Iceo, said of Larchmont Lass: “She’s not been easy as she’s been very keen. We put a hood on her today for the first time, just to try and get her to settle, which she did.

“Turning into the straight I thought we’d given her plenty to do, but Harry felt they were always coming back to him and she got up on the line.

“She’s had three runs and she’ll go out now (for a summer break). She’ll be a lovely novice hurdler next year. A lovely summer will do her the world of good.”

Gary Moore’s Spirit D’Aunou was all out to justify odds-on favouritism in the Racing Only Bettor Podcast Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

A narrowly beaten second on his Kempton debut, the four-year-old had since struck gold at Huntingdon and Ludlow and was the 5-6 favourite to complete his hat-trick under the trainer’s son Jamie.

Spirit D'Aunou (left) and Jamie Moore won the opening race at Sandown
Spirit D’Aunou (left) and Jamie Moore won the opening race at Sandown (Steven Paston/PA)

Havaila came at him hard racing up the hill, but Spirit D’Aunou stuck to his guns to prevail by half a length.

“He was a four-year-old carrying a lot of weight out there so it wasn’t going to be easy for him,” said Moore senior.

“I didn’t know if this horse would go in the ground or not or not, but he is a very genuine horse and I like him a lot.

“He is still a baby learning and he is going to improve with racing and time. I’d like to think he would go to Ascot in early April for that juvenile handicap hurdle there.”

The Moores doubled up with Hudson De Grugy (11-4) in the Betfair Daily Multiples Offer At Cheltenham Novices’ Handicap Chase – and made it a treble on the afternoon in the concluding Daily Tips On Betting.Betfair.com Handicap Chase with 9-1 shot Zhiguli.

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