Tag Archive for: Ferny Hollow

Irish Arkle likely to be next target for Ferny Hollow

The Irish Arkle is likely to be next on the agenda for Ferny Hollow after he starred in a double for Cheveley Park Stud on the opening day of the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old beat esteemed stablemate Appreciate It in the Champion Bumper and got the better of Bob Olinger in a maiden hurdle in 2020, but missed much of last season through injury.

He made a winning on his return to action and chasing debut at Punchestown earlier in the month and followed up in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase.

Cheveley Park director Richard Thompson said: “As Willie said afterwards, Ferny Hollow was exceptional on the day.

“To be off the track for over a year, come back and win and then come out three weeks later and win a Grade One – giving 13lb to a very good filly (Riviere D’etel)- was fantastic.

“I have to admit I thought he was going to get beaten at one stage, but he really pulled it out.

“In the short term I think we’ll be looking towards the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival.”

Sir Gerhard in the clear at Leopardstown
Sir Gerhard in the clear at Leopardstown (Niall Carson/PA)

Thompson was also delighted to see last season’s Champion Bumper hero Sir Gerhard make a successful start to his hurdling career on the same Leopardstown card.

He looks set to step up to Grade One level sooner rather than later.

“He looked a class act, didn’t he,” Thompson added.

“I think we’ll be looking towards the Dublin Racing Festival with him as well.”

Mullins hails ‘awesome’ Leopardstown effort from Ferny Hollow

Ferny Hollow came out on top in a terrific battle with Riviere D’etel for the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Despite having made all in his beginners’ chase at Punchestown, Gordon Elliott’s Riviere D’etel was expected to give Ferny Hollow something to aim at given she was getting 13lb as a four-year-old filly.

She will never be getting that much weight again as she turns five next week so it seemed worth a shot from Elliott, pitching her against Willie Mullins’ 2020 Champion Bumper winner, and in truth she lost little in defeat.

Ferny Hollow, who only had one race over hurdles due to injury, had been something of a tearaway in his early bumpers and at one stage this threatened a return to those days as he set off at a tremendous lick under Paul Townend.

Jack Kennedy seemed content to take a lead on Riviere D’etel after a couple of fences and the pair of them put in some tremendous leaps on the way around.

While Ferny Hollow could never convincingly put the race to bed at any stage, the 10-11 favourite always looked to just have enough in hand.

The field were forced to miss what would have been the final fence due to damage caused on the first circuit and with the aid of the rail, Ferny Hollow came away to win by two lengths.

Coral cut the winner to 6-4 from 2-1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March.

“I thought that was a huge performance to give that weight to a filly that no one has got near all season,” said Mullins, whose charge remains the only horse to have beaten Bob Olinger.

“He had come back from an 11-month break last time, but had only three weeks this time – I was worried all week that I was asking too much coming back so soon.

“Everything was against him, but he still pulled it out of the bag. I thought it was an awesome performance.

“He loves jumping. I really did think it was an awesome performance on his behalf. We could have waited another few weeks and gone to Punchestown and as we got nearer the race I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But he showed what he is today.”

He added: “We are very happy with him over the fences, he was never staying over hurdles.

“We’ll probably come back here for the Dublin Racing Festival and then the spring festivals.”

Ferny Hollow in top form for eagerly-awaited second start over fences

Connections of Ferny Hollow have complete faith in the horse’s ability as he steps into Grade One company on only his second race over fences.

The 2020 Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner, owned by Cheveley Park Stud and trained by Willie Mullins, heads for the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday on the back of victory at Punchestown three weeks ago.

The six-year-old was sent off the 8-15 favourite for a beginners’ chase over two miles and a furlong and duly disposed of 14 rivals, with Henry de Bromhead’s Coeur Sublime, who reopposes, beaten four lengths in second place.

Ferny Hollow after winning the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival
Ferny Hollow after winning the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival (Andrew Matthews/PA)

That was his first race since he defeated Bob Olinger on his only sole start over hurdles in November 2020.

Ferny Hollow is reported to have thrived for the run, though he has a tougher assignment on his hands as he has to give 13lb to Riviere D’etel.

The four-year-old filly is unbeaten in three starts over fences – the last two victories coming at graded level, the most recent of those when part of a magnificent seven Gordon Elliott winners at Navan earlier this month.

“Ferny Hollow came out of Punchestown fantastic,” said Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father.

“I think Riviere D’etel going hard in front will help him jump and settle. He has to give her a lot of weight, but I think his class will tell.”

The Closutton stable have a second string to their bow in Grand Bornand, who made a pleasing switch to the bigger obstacles with victory at Galway in July.

“He’s going to have to step up on his form, but he looks a better chaser than he was a hurdler and it would be no surprise if he can get some prize-money,” said Mullins.

Oliver McKiernan’s Gallant John Joe will be in action after a 635-day absence. The eight-year-old had useful form in the 2019-20 campaign, finishing third to Notebook in the Grade One Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown. Zoffanien, trained by Denis Hogan, completes the six-strong field.

Headlining the undercard is the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, where Gordon Elliott’s Fil Dor renews rivalry with the Noel Meade-trained Lunar Power.

A length and a quarter separated the pair in a Grade Three at Fairyhouse last month.

Lunar Power (left) and Fil Dor locked in action
Lunar Power (left) and Fil Dor locked in action (Niall Carson/PA)

Elliott, who also runs Britzka, said of Fil Dor: “He has a 3lb penalty for beating Noel Meade’s horse a length and a quarter the last day and hopefully we can overcome that. He’s a nice horse.

“He’s a big horse and with a summer’s grass next year he could be anything. He’s a nice horse to look forward to.”

Meade said of his runner: “He’s in good form and we’re happy with him. He ran well the last day, but he still got beat.

“The ground the last day would maybe have suited him better than it would have suited Gordon’s horse, I’d say softer ground is probably more to his advantage.”

Gerhard and Hollow part of strong Mullins team for Leopardstown opener

Sir Gerhard, Ferny Hollow and Chacun Pour Soi are all among Willie Mullins’ squad for the first two days of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival.

The Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard will be making his debut over obstacles in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle in a 20-runner field on Sunday.

Speaking to Racing TV about Sir Gerhard, Mullins said: “He jumps well. He’s ready for action.”

Mullins also runs an interesting contender in Goven, twice a winner on the Flat in France before being bought by JP McManus.

Ferny Hollow, who like Sir Gerhard is owned by Cheveley Park Stud, faces five rivals in the Racing Post Novice Chase.

Another Champion Bumper winner, he only had one run over hurdles – when beating Bob Olinger – before injury curtailed his season, but he began this campaign with a win over fences.

“He hasn’t got great racing experience, so Patrick (Mullins) was delighted he did get hustled and bustled in the race last time,” said Mullins.

Ferny Hollow is one of six but he will face a stern test from Gordon Elliott’s mare Riviere D’etel.

As a four-year-old, she gets plenty of allowances and has won all three of her outings over fences to date.

Coeur Sublime, a four-length second to Ferny Hollow last time, takes him on again.

Elliott’s pair of Fil Dor and Britzka look the two to beat in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, in which seven have been declared.

Vanillier has been declared at Limerick
Vanillier has been declared at Limerick (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

On the same afternoon at Limerick, eight have been declared for the Grade One Boylesports Faugheen Novice Chase.

Gavin Cromwell has both Gabynako and Vanillier in the two-and-a-half-mile contest, in which Elliott runs Farouk D’alene.

Monday’s Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase sees Chacun Pour Soi meet Envoi Allen in an intriguing clash.

Both, however, are on something of a retrieval mission.

Chacun Pour Soi, winner of the race last year, was a red-hot favourite for the Tingle Creek Chase but blotted his copybook with an uncharacteristic display of poor jumping.

Mullins feels he may have had something of an excuse, though.

“He seems fine, the only thing we could find after Sandown was that he took the chestnut off his hock, which I call their fifth toe,” he said.

“It’s a bit like a runner taking a toenail off in a race, I’d say. We don’t know when it happened but obviously it happened before the fourth, I’d say.

“He didn’t jump going down the back, where I thought he’d take a length out of everything at every fence.”

Envoi Allen will switch back in distance
Envoi Allen will switch back in distance (Niall Carson/PA)

Envoi Allen could finish only sixth in the John Durkan and drops down to two miles for the first time since winning the Royal Bond as a novice hurdler.

Battleoverdoyen and Sizing Pottsie complete the four-runner field. Mullins decided not to declare Energumene.

In the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle, Largy Debut, who comfortably accounted for Kilcruit at Cork, takes on the Elliott pair of Mighty Potter and Three Stripe Life.

The field is completed by three Mullins-trained runners, Arctic Warrior, Farout and Grangee.

Ferny Hollow sparkles in Punchestown comeback

Ferny Hollow made a triumphant return from over a year on the sidelines on his chasing debut at Punchestown.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old had claimed a couple of notable scalps on his two most recent starts – beating esteemed stablemate Appreciate It in the 2020 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and Bob Olinger on his first start over hurdles at Gowran Park last year.

Ferny Hollow (8-15 favourite) missed the remainder of last season through injury, but appears to have retained all his ability judged on his comeback in the BetVictor Beginners Chase.

Jumping well at the head of affairs under the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins, the Westerner gelding was challenged and briefly passed by Coeur Sublime between the final two fences.

But Ferny Hollow wrestled back the lead approaching the last and a bold leap sealed his victory, with four lengths separating him and Coeur Sublime at the line.

Willie and Patrick Mullins and owners Cheveley Park Stud were completing a quick-fire double following the Grade One success of Allaho in the preceding John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Willie Mullins at Punchestown on Sunday
Willie Mullins at Punchestown on Sunday (Brian Lawless/PA)

“For a horse with such little experience I was very impressed with him,” said Mullins senior.

“He was very lazy over the first few fences, very careful. Patrick said once he had to get down to race over the last four he was much better, he was like a professional.

“We’ll look for a nice novice chase with him. We’ll see how he comes out of that before we make a plan for his next run.”

Cheveley Park’s jump stars gear up for Down Royal

Two of Cheveley Park Stud’s National Hunt stars, Envoi Allen and Quilixios, are set to return to action at Down Royal’s two-day Festival of Racing fixture.

Quilixios, winner of the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, is to reappear in the WKD Hurdle on Friday – while Envoi Allen is on course to make his eagerly-awaited comeback in the Grade Two Join Racing TV Chase over two miles three and a half furlongs on Saturday.

Both horses, trained by Henry de Bromhead, have points to prove – with Envoi Allen having his first race since undergoing surgery for a chipped joint and Quilixios aiming to bounce back after disappointing in the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown in May.

“Envoi Allen and Quilixios will be out at the weekend,” said Chris Richardson, managing director for owners Cheveley Park Stud.

Envoi Allen fell at Cheltenham and was pulled up at Punchestown, but has been pleasing connections at home as he prepares for his return. He is one of seven entries, with his former trainer Gordon Elliott responsible for both Coko Beach and Vado Forte.

“We’re very happy with him, and he’s in good heart. He schooled well, and Saturday looks right for him, fingers crossed,” said Richardson.

“It’s a bit of a nerve racking one. Let’s hope he gets round all right and safely.

“It’s a nice opportunity to get Quilixios started there too.”

Ferny Hollow is another exciting prospect for Cheveley Park, who could be on the comeback trail quite soon too.

Ferny Hollow, winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in 2020 could soon be back on the comeback trail
Ferny Hollow, winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in 2020, could soon be back on the comeback trail (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The 2020 Cheltenham bumper winner, trained by Willie Mullins, has been sidelined since making a successful hurdling debut at Gowran Park in November when he had subsequent Cheltenham Festival scorer Bob Olinger in second place.

“He’s fine. Obviously he’s a little bit further behind. We’re happy with him,” added Richardson.

“Plans are still up in the air. Willie plays his card close to his chest, but we’ll be focusing a bit more when we get the horses in training sale out of the way (this week).

“They’ve all had the chance to recuperate, so we’ll hold our breath.”

Ferny Hollow set to miss Punchestown and wait for next season

Ferny Hollow, who in his short career to date has already beaten the subsequent winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, is unlikely to make it back in time for the Punchestown Festival.

Trained by Willie Mullins and owned by Cheveley Park Stud, Ferny Hollow accounted for Appreciate It in last season’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper and Bob Olinger in a maiden hurdle at Gowran in November.

He was ruled out of Cheltenham before Christmas, and while connections had mooted the possibility of him making Punchestown it now appears he will not be seen until next season.

Ferny Hollow's form has been franked
Ferny Hollow’s form has been franked (Weatherbys)

Sir Gerhard made it three successive wins for Cheveley Park in the Champion Bumper, with Envoi Allen winning in 2019, and the Cheveley Park’s managing director Chris Richardson said: “The pressure is on for next year now!

“We must thank Weatherbys and everyone at Cheltenham for putting on such a fantastic meeting, even though owners couldn’t be there.

“I think Punchestown will be in the mix (for Sir Gerhard), he’d had a nice break before Cheltenham since winning at Navan.

“It’s a shame Ferny Hollow had his setback, but he’s recovering well. Whether he runs at Punchestown, we’re not quite sure yet, it may be that we’ll put him away and make sure he’s 200 per cent for next season.

“On the basis of his form he’s a very smart horse.”

Mullins said: “The form is looking rock solid now, and Ferny Hollow looks a good sort.

“I know there was talk at one time about him possibly being back for Punchestown, but at the moment we are not thinking about that. We’ll wait for next season.”

A Plus Tard set to head straight to Cheltenham

Savills Chase winner A Plus Tard is likely to sidestep the Dublin Racing Festival and head straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Connections are keen to give the seven-year-old as long as possible to get over his exertions from the Christmas feature at Leopardstown, in which he proved his stamina for three miles with a relentless finish to overhaul Kemboy and Melon.

While he would have another two furlongs to tackle at Cheltenham, the manner of his victory, in coming from well off the pace, has given his team hope Henry de Bromhead’s charge will be a genuine player in the blue riband come March.

“A Plus Tard was very impressive. It was obviously a step into the unknown, but it has opened up so many more options and one is clearly the Gold Cup,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud.

“He likes to run left-handed and he likes to run fresh and we’re very fortunate to have a selection of special horses.

“He was eyecatching in that performance. It was a bit of a punt to see if he stayed, but occasionally you have got to roll the dice and it worked out a treat. He’s very exciting and a serious star in his own right.

“I don’t think he’ll run at the Dublin Racing Festival, I think he’ll go straight to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, as he runs so well fresh. So I think we’ll just go there.

“He had a hard race the other day and it wasn’t easy, it was a pure test so we don’t want to rush him back, we’ll be patient and go for the Festival, all being well.”

One Cheveley Park-owned star who will not be at Cheltenham is Ferny Hollow, but Richardson has not given up hope the Champion Bumper winner will run again this season – especially given the horse he beat on his hurdles debut has subsequently won a Grade One.

“Obviously Ferny Hollow’s form was franked by Bob Olinger the other day and it’s frustrating he won’t be there,” said Richardson.

“He might make Punchestown, that is the hope, but I wouldn’t want to tempt fate. That is what we would like to think.”

Ferny Hollow set to miss Cheltenham with suspected stress fracture

Last season’s Champion Bumper hero Ferny Hollow is set to miss the Cheltenham Festival due to injury.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding stormed up the famous hill to provide trainer Willie Mullins with a 10th Champion Bumper success in March and made a fine start to his career over hurdles when seeing off subsequent winner Bob Olinger at Gowran Park last month.

However, the five-year-old was not entered to run over the Christmas period and connections have now confirmed he will miss much of the current campaign, if not all.

Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “It’s really frustrating. We’re still not really sure what the problem is, but it looks like a stress fracture behind.

“We’re sort of investigating as we go forward. Willie said he’s not right and obviously I’m not able to go over and see him because we’re all stuck where we are.

“It’s a shame. He’ll probably miss Cheltenham and we’ll hopefully know more in a couple of weeks’ time on whether we might get him back for Punchestown when we X-ray him again.

“We’re lucky that we’ve got a few of these other horses that have been running so well, but we were really looking forward to him.”

Mullins remains hopeful Ferny Hollow might return to action before the end of the season.

Speaking after saddling a winner at Thurles on Sunday, the champion trainer said: “It looks like he has a stress fracture – he was lame after his last run and didn’t recover.

“We can’t find anything wrong, he is lame behind. We can’t find it on an X-ray and that usually means there is some little fracture there.

“Those things will recover 100 per cent – it is disappointing, but it could be a lot worse than that.

“Punchestown is a possibility as usually they need four to six weeks depending on how they recover and the horse will tell us that more than anything else.”

Ferny Hollow ruled out of Cheltenham

Last season’s Champion Bumper hero Ferny Hollow has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival due to injury.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding stormed up the famous hill to provide trainer Willie Mullins with a 10th Champion Bumper success in March and made a fine start to his career over hurdles when seeing off subsequent winner Bob Olinger at Gowran Park last month.

However, the five-year-old was not entered to run over the Christmas period and connections have now confirmed he will miss much of the current campaign, if not all.

Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud, told RacingTV.com: “Ferny Hollow has a suspected stress fracture behind. Although nothing is immediately visible on his X-rays, that is often the case with a stress fracture and so we are treating it as such.

“Sadly, he will miss the Cheltenham Festival. We hope he might be able to make it back for Punchestown, but we will have to see.

“It’s very frustrating but he’s very special, so we’re being conservative with him.”

Ferny Hollow poised for jumping bow at Gowran Park

Weatherbys Champion Bumper hero Ferny Hollow makes his eagerly-awaited hurdling debut at Gowran Park on Friday.

Willie Mullins has picked the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle as the starting point for one of the most exciting recruits to obstacles this season.

Owned by Cheveley Park Stud, he is one of their small but very select band of National Hunt horses that also includes the likes of Envoi Allen, Ballyadam and Allaho.

Having met with defeat in his first two bumpers last season, it was not until Mullins fitted Ferny Hollow with a hood he showed his true potential, cruising to victory at Fairyhouse before coming from almost last to first at Cheltenham.

“He’s summered really well and Willie seems very happy with him,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of the stud.

“He’s one of a select few we have that continue to show up very well for us and hopefully he can continue to progress as we go forward.

“He took a little bit of educating last season, in his first two races he was doing everything too quick and he was a bit too free. Hopefully whatever he does we’ll be able to build on for the future, but he’s certainly been pleasing his trainer.

“Sometimes, with horses like him who have been a bit buzzy, it helps getting them over obstacles – it gives them something else to concentrate on.”

Ferny Hollow faces far from a penalty kick, however, with Henry de Bromhead’s Bob Olinger also an exciting recruit, winning on his only start under rules so far, a bumper at Gowran, by 10 lengths.

Regarding the potential of his runner, De Bromhead said last week: “He’s lovely, he’s really good. He worked well the other day.”

Exciting times ahead for powerful team of Willie Mullins novices

Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It are expected to take high rank among Willie Mullins’ team of exciting novice hurdlers this season.

The pair were first and second in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham – an event the Closutton handler has dominated since its inception in 1992.

For assistant trainer and amateur jockey Patrick Mullins, it was a slightly bittersweet moment as he was riding Appreciate It.

“Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It are two fine specimens. Appreciate It is probably a bigger horse, he ran a cracker in the Champion Bumper, ran all the way to the line, but Ferny Hollow just picked him up,” said Mullins.

“Paul (Townend) gave Ferny a fantastic ride. I wasn’t gutted when he came past me, the only bit of commentary I heard was that Ferny Hollow was coming and I knew what would happen.

“That was our first winner of the week in the last race on the second day, so I was just glad it was one of ours by then!”

He went on: “Ferny Hollow will jump a fence no problem, he’s won a point, jumps will help him settle. Appreciate It will probably step up in trip and be more of a Neptune/Albert Bartlett type, while Ferny Hollow is probably a Supreme horse, or Neptune, depending how he goes.”

Another winner in March for the Mullins team was Burning Victory in the Triumph Hurdle – but her success was more than a little bit fortunate given the final-flight blunder by Goshen who was well clear.

“Burning Victory is not a natural jumper, you saw that at Fairyhouse and again at Cheltenham where Paul gave her a fantastic ride. It’s hard to think if she met Goshen she could beat him, but I suppose the Mares’ Hurdle could be an option. She’ll have to brush up her jumping,” said Mullins.

Burning Victory was a rather fortunate and surprise winner of the Triumph Hurdle
Burning Victory was a rather fortunate and surprise winner of the Triumph Hurdle (Simon Cooper/PA)

One who has made great strides already is another mare, Shewearsitwell, for a new syndicate attached to the yard.

“Shewearsitwell always works very well and has a great attitude, she could go for the Royal Bond,” said Mullins.

“It’s fantastic for Closutton Racing Club to get such a good horse so early on, she could be another Airlie Beach. It’s hard to think you might get two fillies like that, but we’re hoping. The mares’ novice at Cheltenham will be the ultimate aim.”

Albert Bartlett winner Monkfish heads a formidable squad of novice chasers that also includes Asterion Forlonge, The Big Getaway and Klassical Dream.

Mullins added: “Paul schooled Monkfish morning and was delighted with him. He’s a horse who is improving all the time and maturing – the penny is starting to drop and he’s as exciting a novice chaser as we have in the yard.

“Elixir D’Ainay and Asterion Forlonge, who both ran in the Supreme (Novices’ Hurdle) last season, will be going chasing – they both schooled well too.

“Asterion obviously jumped very right in the Supreme, but I schooled him (over fences) last week and he was fairly straight and we’re hoping it was just a one off.

“I thought what probably got overlooked was how well he ran, considering what he was doing throughout the race.

“I can’t wait to see The Big Getaway over three miles on heavy ground over fences. I think he’s the biggest horse we’ve ever had.

“Klassical Dream is probably going a bit under the radar. Last year just didn’t go to plan and his jumping fell apart, but he’s a horse with an awful lot of ability and I wouldn’t be forgetting about him at all.”