Tag Archive for: Doddie Weir

Doddiethegreat handed Coral Cup mission

Doddiethegreat will step back up in trip for a shot at the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival having delighted his team when flying home for fourth in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle.

Named after former Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir – who died of motor neurone disease in 2022 – prize-money from the eight-year-old’s on-track exploits is donated by his great friend, owner Kenny Alexander, to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation set up in Weir’s name to aid research into MND.

The foundation reaped the rewards of that generous gesture at the beginning of the gelding’s career and although injury threatened to curtail Doddiethegreat’s progress, keeping him sidelined for over two years, he has continued tracking an upwards curve since his racecourse return earlier this season.

Nico de Boinville and Doddiethegreat after winning at Ascot
Nico de Boinville and Doddiethegreat after winning at Ascot earlier this season (PA)

Trainer Nicky Henderson may have saddled the winner of Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle, Iberico Lord, but the Seven Barrows handler was just as thrilled with Doddiethegreat who kept on strongly to claim fourth.

Connections now feel the time is right to move up to two miles and five furlongs at the Cheltenham Festival – a distance Doddiethegreat won over on his hurdles bow in 2021.

“We were delighted with his run and Nicky and everyone thinks ideally he needs another half a mile,” said Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony.

“Given the circumstances, we were really happy with the run and we were perhaps unlucky not to be third and pick up even more money for the cause.

“I think we’ve got the Coral Cup in mind for him and that’s the plan at the moment.

“He’s a lovely horse and of course we have to be a bit careful after his injury, but we’ve been delighted with him and touch wood, the leg seems to be holding up well. Hopefully we can get plenty more runs into him and win plenty more prize-money for the foundation.”



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Doddiethegreat continues to delight after lengthy injury lay-off

The training prowess of Nicky Henderson has been hailed after Doddiethegreat raised more valuable funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation when finishing second at Cheltenham last week.

Owned by Kenny Alexander, the seven-year-old is named after former Scotland rugby union great Doddie Weir, who died of motor neurone disease in November last year.

Alexander is donating all prize-money earned throughout Doddiethegreat’s career to the foundation set up by his great friend and fellow Scot to raise funds to aid research into MND.

Nico de Boinville and Doddiethegreat after winning at Ascot
Nico de Boinville and Doddiethegreat after winning at Ascot (PA)

This was a decision that paid dividends at the beginning of the gelding’s career when he won his first three outings with the minimum of fuss and he then channelled his namesake’s fighting spirit when returning from over two years on the sidelines with a thrilling comeback victory at Ascot recently.

Although tasting defeat for the first time at Cheltenham, he travelled menacingly over the Prestbury Park undulations and was denied by just over a length as he raised a further £6,075 for the charity.

“We’re absolutely delighted and over the moon with him and Nicky Henderson’s training performance with him has just been phenomenal,” said Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony.

“I don’t think there is a better trainer anywhere to get a horse back from injury and nurse a horse back to the racecourse and then also get them to perform at the top level again, it’s absolutely incredible.

“The whole story and Kenny’s generosity to the Doddie foundation is brilliant and the horse is earning lots of money for the foundation which is huge and hopefully we are raising a bit of awareness for the cause as well.

“When you set out to do something like this with a horse and he turns out to be Doddie and he is winning and showing the ability that he has, then it is great and gives you a great sense of satisfaction.”

Doddiethegreat’s owner has made no secret of his desire to take a shot at the Scottish Champion Hurdle in the spring, but his Cheltenham performance has now opened up more options, with both a return for the Festival in March and a step up in trip just a couple of the possibilities for connections to ponder.

“I think both Nicky and Nico (de Boinville, jockey) are adamant that he is crying out for further and will improve for further,” continued Molony.

Doddiethegreat's trainer Nicky Henderson has nursed the seven-year-old back to full fitness
Doddiethegreat’s trainer Nicky Henderson has nursed the seven-year-old back to full fitness (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“Kenny would absolutely love him to go to Ayr in April for the Scottish Champion Hurdle. But we would just be a little bit worried that you might get fast ground and with his previous injury history and it being over two miles, would that be the right place for him? It’ll certainly be under consideration.”

When asked if a run at the Cheltenham Festival would be considered, Molony added: “Absolutely, all options will be open and no doubt Nicky and his team will pick the right course of action with him.

“It’s still one day at a time because of his horrific injury and we’ll always be on tenterhooks with him, but we will see how we go.”



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Doddiethegreat primed for Cheltenham charity mission

Doddiethegreat will put the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation in the spotlight again when trying to maintain his unbeaten record at Cheltenham on Friday.

Named after former Scotland rugby union great Doddie Weir, who died in November last year following a battle with motor neurone disease, all prize-money earned by the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding goes to the charity set up by Weir to raise funds to aid research into MND.

Owned by Weir’s friend and fellow Scotsman Kenny Alexander, the seven-year-old channelled his namesake’s fighting spirit when successfully overcoming a 746-day lay-off at Ascot last month.

That took his record to a perfect four from four and he now makes the step into handicap company in the Catesby Estates Handicap Hurdle.

“The whole thing is a dream with him and we’re trying to raise as much money for Doddie’s foundation as we can,” said Alexander’s racing manager, Peter Molony.

“He’s such an exciting horse and the whole thing is so exciting.

“We’re a little bit worried, as he’s coming back and hopefully the bounce factor won’t come into play.

“He ran so well the last day and we do think a little bit further would suit, but it’s the next step and hopefully we can pick up a bit more money for the foundation.

“Cheltenham is the place everyone wants to be and Jill Douglas, the sports presenter, is a trustee of the foundation and she is going to be there on the day. Sadly, myself and Kenny can’t be there, but Jill will represent us.

“The whole thing is building momentum now and hopefully it will continue.”

Fergal O’Brien’s Grade Two bumper-winning mare Dysart Enos impressed on her hurdling debut at Huntingdon and will bid to open the card in style in the British EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.

The race has a deep feel to it, with Paul Nicholls’ Meatloaf and Nicky Henderson’s Kintail both catching the eye on their respective hurdling debuts.

Nicholls told Betfair of Meatloaf: “He won two of his four bumpers and was then successful on his debut over hurdles at Wincanton last month with the form working out nicely.

“He has a penalty to carry and this is obviously a hotter race but he has run a cracker at this course on New Year’s Day and looks to have a fair chance.”

Meanwhile, Harry Fry thought long and hard before electing to send Beat The Bat to face the music at Prestbury Park, with the Ascot scorer getting the nod over fellow crack novice Gidleigh Park, who is bound for Newbury next week.

Fry said: “I just thought at this stage, Beat The Bat was more streetwise and there looks some lovely prospects in the race, that’s for sure, but we’re delighted with the progress he has been making so far this season.

“He pulled clear with what looks another nice recruit at Ascot the last day and although it’s a slight drop in trip, it’s on the New Course, which should play to his strengths really.

“It will be interesting to see how we get on against what looks some really nice novice hurdlers.”

Storm Control is a previous Cheltenham winner
Storm Control is a previous Cheltenham winner (Tim Goode/PA)

There will be some familiar names on show in the Unibet Middle Distance Chase Series Veterans’ Handicap Chase, with Kerry Lee going for back-to-back race victories with course scorer Storm Control.

Harry Cobden will link up with Philip Kirby’s popular front-runner Top Ville Ben, while Joe Tizzard’s Le Ligerien will be tasked with building on his decisive Kempton success over Danny Kirwan.

Tizzard said: “He has been a cracking horse for the yard, as he has won four races in under 12 months for us, and this series ticks a lot of boxes for him.

Trainer Joe Tizzard will saddle Le Ligerien
Trainer Joe Tizzard will saddle Le Ligerien (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Life doesn’t get any easier for him, as his mark is creeping up, but this is a good place to go for him, as it is better taking on horses of a similar age, rather than a field full of up-and-coming youngsters.

“As he has got older, he does like to bounce off the ground, but the softer ground here shouldn’t be a problem, as he has won on soft before.

“Whether he is better around an extended two and a half miles at Kempton or an extended two and a half miles around Cheltenham, we will see. He is already qualified for the final, but this is another good pot for him to go for.”



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Doddiethegreat battles back to boost MND charity

Connections were thrilled to see Doddiethegreat channel his namesake’s fighting spirit when successfully overcoming a long lay-off at Ascot.

Trained by Nicky Henderson, the seven-year-old is named after the former Scotland rugby union great Doddie Weir, who died in November 2022 following a battle with motor neurone disease.

Owned by Kenny Alexander, of Honeysuckle fame, the gelding won his first three outings with the minimum of fuss and has always been held in high regard.

However, he suffered a tendon injury following a successful hurdling debut at Kempton in 2021 which kept him off the track for over two years.

Making his return after 746 days on the sidelines, he proved the engine remained in-tact with a brilliant comeback win.

And with all the prize-money accrued by Doddiethegreat going to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation – a charity set up by Weir to raise funds to aid research into MND – connections were delighted to add just over £15,000 to the pot.

“It was fantastic and an amazing training performance,” said Peter Molony, Alexander’s racing manager.

“Nicky Henderson is the master of bringing one back from injury and he’s an exciting horse. Nicky has been very bullish about him all along but just wanted to give him all the time he could.

“It’s a dream and Friday was the first time we had been able to pick up some decent prize-money for the foundation, which was great.

“He’s a horse that has faced a little bit of adversity, similar to Doddie himself, so it was all a bit poignant, I suppose. It was great and a dream.”

Doddie Weir set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation (MNDF) prior to his death in late 2022
Doddie Weir set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation (MNDF) prior to his death in late 2022 (Jane Barlow/PA)

In the immediate aftermath of his Ascot triumph, the Scottish Champion Hurdle was mentioned as a target for later in the season, and although keen not to rush matters and consider all possible options, Molony admits the race at Ayrshire-born Alexander’s home track in the spring would be given consideration.

He added: “It’s an option, although he might need a bit further than two miles, ideally. With his past injury, we wouldn’t be running him on fast ground.

“It’s definitely an option and Kenny would love a runner that day, and it is a race he would love to win. So, if it suits on the day, then that will be the race he goes for, but it will be all about the horse.

Nico de Boinville and Doddiethegreat after winning at Ascot
Nico de Boinville and Doddiethegreat after winning at Ascot (PA)

“With him and his injury history, it will be one day at a time and see how we get on.”

Molony went on: “We’ll probably go to a handicap now and up in trip a little bit. We haven’t picked out a specific target and Nicky is keen to give him a bit of time again after Ascot because we don’t want to be affected by a bounce factor or anything like that.

“We’ll be going the handicap route anyway, I would have thought, and see how he gets on there.”



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