Tag Archive for: Dunvegan

Dunvegan connections will give thought to Champion Chase bid

Pat Fahy has refused to rule out a tilt at the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Dunvegan, who chased home Chacun Pour Soi in the Grade One Dublin Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The nine-year-old had previously won a couple of Fairyhouse handicaps in good style, and was not discredited at the weekend – finishing in front of Tingle Creek first and third Greaneteen and Captain Guinness.

While beaten 12 lengths by the impressive Willie Mullins-trained winner, the step up into top-class company gave Dunvegan’s connections hope that he could contend in the two-mile championship at the Cheltenham Festival on March 16.

The grey, who is owned by George Turner and the Clipper Logistics Group, is 9-1 favourite with Betfred for the Grand Annual Chase, which takes place on the same day, and 40-1 for the Champion Chase with the same firm.

However, the County Carlow handler is taking a watching brief before making any firm decision.

Fahy said: “We were delighted with that. It was a good run in a Grade One.

“We don’t know what the plan is to be honest. We are going to do a lot of thinking about it over the next week or two.

“We will see him back on the gallops again and then give him a rest after that, and make a plan from there.

“He seems to have taken the race well, but you know yourself, it’s only a few days later when they let you know if they have taken too much out of themselves.

“They can be in great form two days afterwards, but four days afterwards things can start taking effect.”

Dunvegan’s jumping is a major asset and Fahy feels the horse has the right temperament to handle himself against the best at Cheltenham.

“The quality of the Champion Chase, we’ll have to think about that. We’ll give plenty of thought about that, or we might show up in something else.

“Sunday’s run put him in the mix and we know we can go for races like that and make plans. It showed he can compete at that level.

“But things can change. Horses that are firing and flying today, they might not keep that up. So there is no point in dreaming too high – and no point in hiding from things either.

“It is hard enough getting them there. So, we’ll see how he is over the next few days and weeks and then make a plan.”

Champion Chase could tempt connections of Dunvegan

Connections of Dunvegan are considering the possibility of swerving the Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in favour of at tilt at the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The Pat Fahy-trained eight-year-old produced a faultless jumping performance in the hands of Bryan Cooper to land a valuable handicap over two miles and a furlong at Fairyhouse last weekend.

The nine-year-old grey’s three-and-a-quarter-length staying-on success over the Willie Mullins-trained Blackbow made it back-to-back wins at the track and owners George Turner and the Clipper Logistics Group are dreaming big.

While Dunvegan holds an entry in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, Fahy says the ultimate goal is the Cheltenham Festival.

He said: “It was an unbelievable performance – that is the only way you can describe that.

“We have him in the Dublin Racing Festival. We will see what the ground is. If it comes up good, which it can do, that will be an option.

“We will have a chat with Joe Foley, Steve Parkin and George Turner and see what they would like to do.

“It wouldn’t bother me if he didn’t have run between now and Cheltenham. We have his measure now and I think we can get him there in top form.

“The Grand Annual is an option, of course. Maybe that is the race, I don’t know. The entries haven’t closed yet.

“He is rated 156 now and he would probably have to give a lot of weight in the Grand Annual.

“We are not panicking at the moment. We are really enjoying that win.”

Dunvegan’s jumping is a major asset and Fahy feels the horse has the right temperament for the hullabaloo of a big festival meeting.

He is as big as 100-1 for the Champion Chase with Paddy Power and as short as 40-1 with Coral, while he is a general 16-1 joint-favourite for the Grand Annual, which takes place on the same day, Wednesday, March 16.

Dunvegan returns to the winner's enclosure at Fairyhouse
Dunvegan returns to the winner’s enclosure at Fairyhouse (Gary Carson/PA)

“Everyone is telling me they like watching Dunvegan. He is a fascinating horse. He is lovely at home as well. He is a brilliant ‘lepper’ and a brave one, but he is the kindest, kindest animal.

“He is just a pet, really. A lovely animal.

“So, no, I wouldn’t be ruling out the Queen Mother. I would just love to see the horse run in it.

“It may be a way better option going for the Grand Annual, but I don’t see why he should not be in the Queen Mother.

“He would be a joy to watch in that. He has done us no harm and we’ll be able to enjoy him.

“Everything from here is jam on top and we shall hopefully see you at Cheltenham.”

Dunvegan claims Moore glory at Fairyhouse

Dunvegan made it four from four at Fairyhouse in the Dan And Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase.

Pat Fahy’s grey won a bumper and a maiden hurdle at the County Meath track four years ago – and completed the set with a handicap chase victory at the end of November.

The nine-year-old was the 7-2 joint-favourite to maintain his unbeaten course record in this €80,000 feature under Bryan Cooper and ultimately got the job done in fine style.

After tracking his pacesetting market rival Blackbow for much of the two-mile-one-furlong contest, Dunvegan hit the front in the home straight.

Blackbow briefly threatened to rally, but Fahy’s charge was winning the argument on the approach to the final fence and jumped it well to seal a three-and-a-quarter-length verdict.

“When I saw him jumping the second-last, I started to enjoy it,” said Fahy.

“It was straightforward, before Christmas he was bouncing but then he just went a little bit short. We worked on him and he showed today that he wasn’t feeling anything.

“Bryan gave the horse a brilliant ride and we always thought a lot of him. He won two bumpers and beat a lot of winners in Punchestown, then he was so impressive when he won his maiden hurdle here.

“He kind of went backwards on us and looked like a three-mile chaser, but this seems to be his trip.”

On future plans, the trainer added: “We have him in the Queen Mother. I know you are really jumping up in class but he’s done us no harm so we’ll see.

“There is also the Dublin Racing Festival. We’ll move on with him now and give him the chance to compete against the big ones over the shorter trips.

“He hasn’t been beaten here as he won his bumper, hurdles and now two chases. He obviously loves it and it’s a pity we can’t win the Irish National with him now!”

Fahy was also delighted with the performance of Castlegrace Paddy, who was best of the rest in third.

Castlegrace Paddy ran well in defeat
Castlegrace Paddy ran well in defeat (PA)

The 11-year-old had been off the track since suffering a broken blood vessel and pulling up at Gowran Park in early October.

“I was absolutely thrilled with Castlegrace Paddy. Davy (Russell) was delighted with him, he ran some race because that would be his first proper gallop,” said Fahy.

“It was a beautiful run and I couldn’t be happier.”