Tag Archive for: Doddiethegreat

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.”

Doddiethegreat proves popular winner at Ascot

Doddiethegreat has the Scottish Champion Hurdle on his radar after making a successful return from 746 days off the track at Ascot.

Named after the late Scottish Rugby Union star Doddie Weir, who died of motor neurone disease almost a year to the day, the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old has been out of action since winning on hurdles debut at Kempton over two years ago.

Sent off at 5-4 in the hands of Nico de Boinville for the Give The Gift Of Ascot Membership “Introductory” Hurdle, he displayed all the class that had seen him impress in his previous three outings to take advantage of the odds-on favourite Inthewaterside’s below-par display and score by a keeping-on two lengths.

Owned by Kenny Alexander of Honeysuckle fame, prize-money earned by Doddiethegreat is donated to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which raises funds to aid research into MND, and having enhanced his unbeaten record he will now be fittingly aimed at Ayr next April for the big handicap hurdle on Scottish Grand National Day.

“He severed a tendon, it was the most horrible injury,” said Henderson.

“They had to rate him on one run. His target is the Scottish Champion Hurdle. The foundation are so enthusiastic, it’s all about going back to Scotland.”

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

Your Darling often saves his best for the Berkshire track and Ben Pauling’s eight-year-old made it back-to-back victories in the S.A.F.E. Handicap Chase after putting up a fine display to surge nine-lengths clear in the home straight.

The 11-4 favourite, who is owned by Lord Vesty, has not been the most consistent operator down the years and his handler now intends to keep his powder dry over the winter months ahead of a crack at the Grand National fences in the spring.

“He’s one of the most talented horses I’ve trained and when he’s in form he’s electric,” said Pauling.

“It’s just a bit frustrating that he doesn’t always turn up, so my instinct is to put him away and go straight for the Topham Chase.”

Your Darling and connections after winning once again at Ascot
Your Darling and connections after winning once again at Ascot (PA)

There was a double on the day for Harry Fry who saw his Beat The Bat (6-4 joint favourite) conjure up extra to deny the highly-touted Welcom To Cartries in the opening Ascot Partners “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle, before Gin Coco (11-8 favourite) gained compensation for missing Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle by taking the Garden For All Seasons Handicap Hurdle.

There was also plenty to cheer for jockey Charlie Deutsch who won the Racing To School Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase aboard Henry Daly’s outsider of four Supreme Gift (17-2) and then doubled up aboard Venetia Williams’ Hold That Thought (7-2) in the All Seasons Scaffolding Handicap Chase.

The concluding Not Forgotten Novices’ Handicap Hurdle went the way of Harry Derham’s Scamallach Liath, who pulled out extra in the closing stages under Paul O’Brien to oblige favourite backers at odds of 13-8.