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.”
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.
“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.”