Posts

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.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“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!”

Your first 30 days for just £1

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.”