Tag Archive for: Gary Moore

Josh Moore joining father Gary on training licence

Josh Moore is the newest name to the training ranks as he joins his father Gary on the licence.

Moore has played a key role in the Lower Beeding operation since retiring from race-riding following serious injury, but will now officially become one half of the father and son training combination, with Platinum Prince scheduled to be the duo’s first runner at Lingfield on Thursday.

Moore senior also suggested further changes to the arrangements at the family’s Cisswood Racing Stables could be on the cards, with the 67-year-old admitting there will come a time when he hands control to both Josh and his brother Jamie, who hung up his own riding boots in February.

“Josh is joining me on the licence, but hardly anything will change at home,” he explained.

“It had to be done because Josh would have had to go and resit his modules again (if he didn’t).

“It will nice be for him to be on the licence and it won’t be long until another one comes on and one comes off. That’s what will happen and I hope so, but there’s a lot to put into place first.”

He continued: “I couldn’t have carried on without them (Josh and Jamie) and the rest of the team. It’s not all about me, it’s about everyone else as well.”

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Quinn ready to resume in time for Nassalam National bid

Caoilin Quinn can begin to dream of Randox Grand National glory aboard Nassalam after being given the all-clear to return to race riding following injury.

The 22-year-old has been somewhat the man for marathon events this season and as well as being aboard Gary Moore’s mud-loving stayer when romping to victory in the Welsh Grand National in December, he has also won the Surrey National for his boss aboard Movethechains and the Sussex National with David Bridgwater’s Dom Of Mary since the turn of the year.

However, Quinn has been out of action since the end of February after breaking his collarbone at Plumpton, sitting on the sidelines throughout the Cheltenham Festival where his star mount, Nassalam, was pulled up in his Aintree prep in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Now the young jockey is set to step off the treatment table and into the pressure cooker of Aintree on Grand National day as he receives the leg-up on not only Nassalam, but also aboard John and Yvonne Stone’s Botox Has in the JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle on the same card.

“It’s a big weekend and I have two very good rides on Saturday, I’m looking forward to it now,” said Quinn.

“Obviously I’ve been injured for the last few weeks, but I’ve just been to see the specialist and I have been given the all-clear to start riding from Thursday onwards. So hopefully I will be riding Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“Looking at the weather forecast, it’s looking like it could be in our favour – if it’s right anyway. They are due a lot of rain over the next couple of days and that is only going to help Botox and definitely Nassalam. It will certainly increase their chances if it keeps raining.

Caoilin Quinn with the  Welsh Grand National trophy
Caoilin Quinn with the Welsh Grand National trophy (David Davies/PA)

“The two of them have been really important to me so far in my career, they have given me big Saturday winners and have got me into the good races and I’m delighted to be associated with them.

“I can’t thank John and Yvonne Stone enough, they have stuck by me and kept me on their good horses and I have to especially thank my boss (Moore) for having the faith in me in the first place and giving me the opportunities. Hopefully I can keep repaying them in some big races.”

Nassalam heads to Merseyside as the highest-rated British contender in the National and is set to carry 11st 7lb as he bids to join the likes of Corbiere, Bindaree and Silver Birch in supplementing Welsh National glory with success at Aintree.

As short as 14-1 with William Hill, the seven-year-old has already had a taste of the famous course when fourth in the Grand Sefton in November and his big-race pilot feels that experience will serve him well come 4pm on Saturday.

Nassalam thrives in testing conditions
Nassalam thrives in testing conditions (David Davies/PA)

Quinn continued: “The way the season has panned out, it was probably a good thing he ran in the Grand Sefton.

“He has got that experience over the fences now and he seemed to take to them that day. He jumped very well late on and finished very well over a much shorter trip than it’s going to be on Saturday.

“I’m delighted going into it and it takes a bit of weight off your shoulders, knowing he took to them the last day and he’s been round there before.

“It’s a completely different scenario on Saturday, but hopefully everything goes to plan for us. If it all works out it will be great.”

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Moore hoping for rain boost ahead of Nassalam run

Gary Moore would like to see the rain keep falling ahead of Nassalam’s tilt at the Randox Grand National.

The seven-year-old relished the testing ground at Chepstow when romping to an impressive 34-length success in the Welsh Grand National and his handler is keen to see similar conditions ahead of his attempt to add the Aintree version to his CV.

Raised a whopping 16lb for his marathon success over the Christmas period, Nassalam is the highest-rated British contender in the Grand National line-up and his Lower Beeding-based handler elected to send him to the Cheltenham Festival to warm up for National duty in the Gold Cup.

He was one of the first beaten in the blue riband and was pulled up before four out, but Moore reports him to have come out of the race in A1 condition and all roads will now lead to Merseyside for the world’s most famous steeplechase.

“He didn’t do an awful lot in the Gold Cup and he’s absolutely fine,” said Moore.

“All being well, the National is still the plan and hopefully it keeps raining as I need all the help I can get. We know rain is very important to him.”

Although Nassalam disappointed in the Cotswolds, there were plenty of positives to take from Salver’s fine run in the Triumph Hurdle when third behind taking winner Majborough.

Unbeaten heading into the event, he was the first British-trained juvenile home and is now enjoying a well-earned summer break before another season over hurdles beckons in the autumn.

“He came out of Cheltenham well and he’s waiting to go out in the field when the grass gets growing and it warms up a little bit,” said Moore.

Salver has excelled over hurdles this term
Salver has excelled over hurdles this term (David Davies/PA)

“He killed his handicap mark but he was the best of the English in the Triumph, it was a great run.

“He’s finished and you won’t see him until the ground comes soft again, which will hopefully be around October time.

“He will stick to hurdles as he’s too young to go chasing. It’s a tough year that four-year-old year.”

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Salver looking to serve it up to Triumph rivals

Salver will bid to provide Gary Moore with JCB Triumph Hurdle redemption when he takes his chance in Friday’s Cheltenham Festival opener.

Four years ago the trainer saw Goshen unseat his recently-retired son Jamie with the race at his mercy following a freak incident after the last and he now looks to the unbeaten Salver to triumph under Gavin Sheehan.

Despite claiming Grade Two honours at Chepstow over the Christmas period, the Lower Beeding handler feels this will be the acid test of his ability as he meets high-class operators from across the Irish Sea.

“Any significant rain would give him an advantage. This race owes me one,” said Moore.

“He deserves his spot in this line-up and a lot of people would have run him in the Fred Winter because he’s only rated 128, but it was always going to be the Triumph.

“He’s only ever shown his class on a racecourse, he’s never shown anything at home really. His last piece of work was a good piece of work that I was happy with, but to be quite honest, I think he has won four weakish races.

Salver with connections after winning the Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock
Salver with connections after winning the Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock (Ashley Iveson/PA)

“There are a few bits of form that show him to be quite useful but he hasn’t met a superstar yet, so he has to go out there and prove himself, this will be his test.

“Niall (Houlihan) will ride the other horse and poor Caoilin (Quinn) is sidelined, so Gavin rides.”

Willie Mullins has won three of the last four renewals and is blessed with a plethora of chances, saddling seven of the 13 heading to post and dominating the top of the betting lists.

Kenny Alexander’s Kargese is one of the Closutton battalion and the likeable filly will attempt to go one better than the owner’s Gala Marceau did 12 months ago in the race – having followed in that stablemate’s footsteps by claiming the Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown en route to the Cotswolds.

Kargese winning the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown
Kargese winning the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown (Damien Eagers/PA)

She got the better of fellow Mullins runners Storm Heart (second) and Majborough (third) on that occasion and her pilot Danny Mullins feels they are a closely matched bunch.

“The first four home were from Willie’s (at the Dublin Racing Festival) and any one of the four could pop up and win in Cheltenham,” said Danny Mullins.

“Storm Heart was close to me, Majborough back in third ran a bit keen on the day. You can make solid cases for them all finding the necessary improvement to be good enough to win a Triumph.

“It’s probably the one division where the horses are still developing, so what you’re seeing pre-Christmas versus what you see come March in Cheltenham can be two different things.”

Majborough is a nice prospect for the future
Majborough is a nice prospect for the future (PA)

Those sentiments have been echoed by the master of Closutton himself in the build up to the Cheltenham action, but there is a clear apple of his eye amongst his collective, with the imposing Majborough courting plenty of favour from his record-setting handler.

“Majborough ran a cracker (at Leopardstown). Every time I see him I think Gold Cup, not Triumph Hurdle, he’s just a magnificent beast,” said Willie Mullins.

“I was surprised when he arrived from France to see what an individual he was. He’s not a typical juvenile hurdler, you’re looking at him and thinking three years down the road.

“Maybe he could be like Douvan and just fully develop as a four and five-year-old. I’ve got some nice juveniles, but he’d be in the top couple of picks.”

The Festival’s leading trainer is also represented by impressive Limerick winner Bunting, who was a place further back in fourth at the Dublin Racing Festival, while Ethical Diamond (sixth) and Highwind (eighth) were others taking part in the Irish capital with outside claims for Mullins.

The Closutton septet is rounded off by the intriguing Salvator Mundi, who was less than two lengths behind long-time race favourite Sir Gino when they met in France and he could prove an exciting ride for Brian Hayes, making his stable debut in Grade One company – ironically for the sidelined Sir Gino’s owners Joe and Marie Donnelly.

Joseph O’Brien’s Nurburgring has solid form from the early part of the season and has been kept fresh for this event, with Fairyhouse scorer Fratas completing the Irish contingent representing Michael Mulvany.

Warren Greatrex will saddle Mighty Bandit – his expensive recruit from the Caldwell dispersal – who handed Tuesday’s Boodles winner Lark In The Morning a near 10-length beating in November, while Dominic Ffrench Davis takes a shot at this valuable prize with Newbury winner Ithaca’s Arrow.

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Weather remains key to Moore’s plans for Salver

The weather appears set to dictate if Salver will be handed a shot at the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.

A comfortable winner of his first two starts over obstacles, he romped to a 21-length success in Chepstow’s Grade Two Finale Juvenile Hurdle over the Christmas period to announce himself as one of the UK’s best juvenile operators.

He enhanced his unbeaten record over timber at Haydock when claiming the Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle in easy fashion and is as short as 10-1 for Grade One glory at Prestbury Park, with only heavy favourite Sir Gino and a handful of Willie Mullins-based contenders ahead of him in the betting with most bookmakers.

However, having shown a real liking for testing conditions, Moore has always suggested his Festival participation will hinge on a wet forecast during the second week of March.

“He’s fine after Saturday and if this weather keeps up he’ll be going to Cheltenham, but if it doesn’t I don’t know what I will do,” said Moore.

Other options for Salver include holding fire in hope of a wet few days in Merseyside during Grand National week or a trip to France for one of their big end-of-season juvenile events.

But being seen as a horse for the future, Moore would have no qualms if his charge did not run again this season.

He continued: “There’s the possibility he could go to France but that is very unlikely though.

“He’s still a big, weak, immature horse and I’m not sure he is ready for France yet. We could always look at Liverpool as well but that would depend on ground and be weather permitting.

“If he doesn’t run again this year, he’s done more than his fair share and it wouldn’t matter.”

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Peking Opera’s Triumph hopes rest on Kempton performance

Gary Moore is looking to Peking Opera to continue his stable’s fine form with the one-time Irish Derby fourth seeking to book his ticket to the Triumph Hurdle in Kempton’s Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.

Moore, whose son Jamie recently announced his retirement from the saddle, enjoyed a big-race double at Haydock last weekend as Salver confirmed himself as one of the UK’s leading juveniles and Botox Has claimed Grade Two success in the Rendlesham.

Lower Beeding-based Moore is now on the hunt for further graded honours with his former Ballydoyle inmate, who made the perfect start over hurdles at Sandown earlier this month.

He showed there he had plenty of speed to go with his staying power and he has forced a change of thinking from his trainer, with Moore conceding he never had a trip to Kempton in mind for the hot juvenile prospect.

“Going into Sandown, on his Flat form, I thought he would want a stiff two miles,” explained Moore.

“The last place I thought I would run him was Kempton, even though the Adonis was probably the obvious race anyway. But I thought he would want a stiff two rather than an easy two and as it worked out, I thought he travelled well (at Sandown) and if they had gone a better gallop it would have helped him more.

“Hopefully the track will suit him and hopefully he will show enough to be a Triumph Hurdle horse – he will need to because it’s quite a good race.”

Peking Opera jumps a hurdle on his way to victory at Sandown
Peking Opera jumps a hurdle on his way to victory at Sandown (John Walton/PA)

Moore’s success with Salver this season has seen him clipped into as short as 10-1 for the Triumph Hurdle next month, while it is Peking Opera’s exploits on the Flat combined with his Sandown hurdles debut that are driving his odds, ranging from 16s to 33-1.

Those prices could plummet with a bold showing from the son of Galileo on Saturday, but Moore says he has collected few clues on the gallops as to who may be better, with both kept separate in their work at home.

“I’ve never galloped them together,” continued Moore.

“One is an out-and-out stayer and the other should be as well, but on his pedigree and what he’s done (on the Flat), he (Peking Opera) should have a bit more class.”

Le Patron won the Henry VIII Novices' Chase in December
Le Patron won the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase in December (John Walton/PA)

Moore could also be represented on the card by Grade One scorer Le Patron, who could attempt to get back on track in the Coral Pendil Novices’ Chase after seeing his jumping fall apart in the Scilly Isles last time.

The six-year-old finished a long way adrift of Nickle Back on that occasion, with Moore having plenty of respect for that rival who is also entered at the weekend.

“My biggest concern in that race is Nickle Back and I don’t know if he will run or not, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to take him on to be honest,” added Moore.

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Botox Has is Rendlesham hero, but no plans for Stayers’ tilt

Botox Has appears unlikely to throw his hat into the Stayers’ Hurdle ring despite registering a wide-margin victory in the Virgin Bet Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.

The eight-year-old has been a fine servant to his connections, with two wins at Cheltenham, a National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell and a Grade Three handicap win at Haydock last season featuring on his CV.

Gary Moore’s charge kicked off the current campaign with success in the Grade Two bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby and has since finished sixth in both the Long Walk at Ascot and the Cleeve at Cheltenham.

Returning to a track and conditions he clearly handles well, Botox Has was set off at 5-2 to complete a big-race double for his trainer and jockey Caoilin Quinn following Salver’s comfortable triumph in the preceding Virgin Bet Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle.

And after sitting in the slipstream of 6-4 favourite Butch for much of the extended three-mile journey, the eight-year-old took over in the home straight and pulled nine lengths clear on the run-in.

Betfair trimmed Botox Has’ Stayers’ Hurdle odds to 20-1 from 66-1, but Moore’s son and assistant Josh expects him sidestep the Cheltenham Festival in favour of other options.

He said: “He’s won very well and I think he likes a flat track. For all he’s won at Cheltenham and Fontwell in the past, I think a flat track sees the best of him, like at Wetherby and here at Haydock in a handicap hurdle last year.

“I think we’ll probably bypass Cheltenham. He is in the Stayers’, but I don’t think he’ll go there. We might consider the Grade One at Aintree and we may also consider going to France in the spring for the French Champion Hurdle, and there are other races for him there as well.

“We’ll probably save him for Aintree first as I think the track there will suit him and we’ll hope for a soft ground Aintree.”

Jockey Caoilin Quinn
Jockey Caoilin Quinn (David Davies/PA)

Moore was keen to praise the winning rider, whose opportunities looks sure to increase after Josh’s brother Jamie joined him in retirement earlier this week.

He added: “Caoilin is riding very well and he’s actually closing in a bit on the conditional title leader (Patrick Wadge), so hopefully he’ll have a good go at that.”

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Salver shines in Victor Ludorum victory

Salver took another step towards a potential outing at next month’s Cheltenham Festival after maintaining his unbeaten Virgin Bet Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock.

Gary Moore’s youngster had impressed in winning each of his first three starts to date, never more so than when beating his rivals by upwards of 21 lengths in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow over the Christmas period.

The son of Motivator was bidding to make it four from four over obstacles on Merseyside – and while he made a couple of small jumping errors in the extremely testing conditions, the 2-5 favourite was ultimately not hard pressed to score by three and a half lengths in the hands of Caoilin Quinn.

Josh Moore, assistant to his father, said: “He’s done it nicely and it’s sort of a case of he’s done what he had to do.

“I think he can be better than he was today as he was quite wound up beforehand, which he isn’t usually.

“It’s proper heavy ground out there and they’ll either go on it or they won’t. As we saw at Chepstow, he goes on it, but Haydock heavy is completely different to anywhere else.”

Paddy Power trimmed Salver’s odds for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham to 10-1 from 14-1, while he is 8-1 from 12-1 with the same firm for the Boodles.

However, Moore junior revealed his Festival participation will be ground dependent.

“I think he will only be going there if it is soft or worse than soft. You’d definitely want to be seeing soft in the going description anyway,” he added.

“If it’s a good ground Triumph I can’t see him running there. It’s quite a big occasion for a young horse, there’s Aintree afterwards and you’ve got the option of France as well.

“There’s lots of options and we wouldn’t be in a rush to make any decisions. He’s a nice horse.”

Moore senior was at Ascot, where he said: “He’s won again and I’m very pleased with him.

“He got very stressed before the race which is a concern so we will have to see what he’s like when he gets back and what he’s like in the next few weeks before we decide if we go anywhere.

“If the conditions came right he would be a Triumph horse, but they would have to be right. I’m not bothered at all if I have to put him away, he’s a very big horse and he’s only going to improve. He’s a chaser in the making.”

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Peking Opera performance delights Gary Moore

Former Irish Derby fourth Peking Opera made a successful start to his jumping career with a solid win at Sandown.

The son of Galileo was bought for 100,000 guineas after also scoring in Listed company for Aidan O’Brien and was sent off the 13-8 joint-favourite for the Virgin Bet Daily Extra Places Novices’ Hurdle.

Niall Houlihan had his mount tucked in behind front-runner Glengolly for much of the way and his jumping was smooth.

Peking Opera was almost forced to push on when a big gap opened up on the inside entering the home straight and quickly took control of proceedings.

Fellow market leader The Good Doctor threw down a challenge between the final two flights but was giving his rival 22lb in weight and was readily seen off on the run-in, going down by a length and three-quarters.

Winning trainer Gary Moore told Racing TV: “I expected him to run very, very well, but I’ve had two good horses beaten in this race over the last two years, so that did worry me.

“He’s a very lazy work horse at home and I couldn’t believe he was a different horse on the track. You could work him with a donkey at home and he’d just work with it.

“He’s always loved his jumping though, the more we’ve schooled him, the better he’s enjoyed it, so I think it’s turned him round.

“Niall was told not to hit the front until the last and he had to hit the front early, so it’s a good result.

“I brought him to a stiff track because I thought that would suit him on his Flat form, but I’m just going to change things now and I think he’s got the pace to go for the Adonis (Kempton, February 24).”

The JCB Triumph Hurdle would then be the ultimate target, but Peking Opera was pushed out to 33-1 from 20-1 by Betfair for Cheltenham Festival glory.

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Moore eyeing Fontwell for Peking Opera debut

It could be a big weekend for Gary Moore’s juveniles as Irish Derby fourth Peking Opera is pencilled in to begin life over obstacles at Fontwell on Sunday.

The son of Galileo was a Listed winner for Aidan O’Brien on the Flat before going on to finish just over nine lengths adrift of Auguste Rodin at the Curragh in the summer.

He also saw Group One action in the Grand Prix de Paris before finishing his spell at Ballydoyle with a third behind Vauban in the Ballyroan Stakes.

The four-year-old is now set to try his hand at a new discipline and, having been picked up for 100,000 guineas at the sales, has joined Gary Moore to run in Steve Packham’s colours, made famous by Goshen.

He can be backed at a best price of 20-1 for the Triumph Hurdle, but before thoughts of the Cheltenham Festival enter the picture, he will have to pass his first assignment, having been handed an entry for the Join The Vickers.Bet Free Bet Club Novices’ Hurdle.

“If everything is all right, we might run on Sunday at Fontwell,” said Moore.

“We’re running tight on time and I need to get a run into him.”

Salver in winning action at Chepstow
Salver in winning action at Chepstow (David Davies/PA)

Although Peking Opera has yet to jump a hurdle in public, stablemate Salver has already put down a marker when romping to a wide-margin victory in Chepstow’s Finale Juvenile Hurdle over Christmas.

A best price of 14-1 for the Triumph, he is unbeaten in three over obstacles and holds an entry for the Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday although ground conditions at Prestbury Park are set to determine his participation.

“The horse is very well and he has an entry just in case the ground came up soft,” said Moore.

“He’s probably not going to get his ground and if it did come up soft, he would go there, but if it isn’t then he won’t go.

“It’s a stiff two-mile-one and I thought I would just make the entry, but he would be 50-50 – it would have to be good to soft or softer at least. I wouldn’t even want too much good in it, I want it proper soft ground.

“I’m very mindful of the fact he has improved with every time he has run and it will also depend on how he works in the morning more than anything.”

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Reigning champ Editeur Du Gite ready to face Jonbon

Jonbon is the headline act among six entries for the rearranged Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham – but Gary Moore is hoping history will repeat itself for defending champion Editeur Du Gite.

Nicky Henderson’s Tingle Creek hero began his campaign with victory in the Shloer Chase at Prestbury Park in November and was fully on course for a clash with old adversary El Fabiolo at the race’s traditional home of Ascot last Saturday.

With that card falling victim to the weather, the Seven Barrows handler was eager for the race to be swiftly rearranged to the Cheltenham Festival Trials Day, as it was when Editeur Du Gite downed Edwardstone and Energumene in a thrilling contest 12 months ago.

Jonbon is unbeaten in two starts this term
Jonbon is unbeaten in two starts this term (John Walton/PA)

There is set to be no Irish representation this time around, with as expected El Fabiolo keeping his powder dry in favour of the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown a week later.

But Jonbon will head to the Cotswolds, with Moore also keen to add Editeur Du Gite’s name to the mix on the back of his second Desert Orchid Chase victory over the Christmas period.

“It would be nice wouldn’t it, if lightning could strike twice,” said Moore.

“He seems in good order and the horse is very well – he’s entitled to take his chance.

“We’re under no illusions we will beat Jonbon, but I just hope he runs a big race – I’m sure he will.”

Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra got the better of Elixir De Nutz in the battle for second when three lengths adrift of Editeur Du Gite at Kempton last month and both are set to reoppose in the Grade One contest.

Despite struggling to make an impression so far this term, Venetia Williams’ Funambule Sivola finished second in the Champion Chase behind Energumene in 2022 and represents a team in good order.

Richard Hobson’s December Gold Cup hero Fugitif completes the entries but is also engaged in the £100,000 Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase on the card.

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New Year Musings: Of Moore’s Grand ‘salam

They were certainly getting excited after Galopin Des Champs came back to form with a 23-length romp in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on Thursday, writes Tony Stafford. They reasoned that in beating market rival Gerri Colombe by that margin, he was reasserting his place at the head of the steeplechasing tree. He probably was.

The 2023 Gold Cup winner had been beaten twice since the Cheltenham centrepiece, each time by Fastorslow, at Punchestown in the spring and then on his comeback to action in November. Therefore, he needed to do something to restore his reputation.

Even after those two less than sparkling shows, the surprise to me was that the two horses on Thursday had been as close together in the market on the day as they were, with an official 11lb between them before this encounter.

Galopin Des Champs did indeed power away up the Leopardstown run-in, but just imagine a different scenario, one where Gerri Colombe, rather that Gordon Elliott aiming him at a very likely minimum second prize of €33k (the winner got 70k more), he would have gone elsewhere.

Had Gordon declined this clash, would we have been quite so enamoured of a 23.25 lengths defeat of the 80/1 Willie Mullins field bolsterer Capodanno, who almost denied the Elliott horse that handy runner-up money? Capodanno is rated 20lb inferior to Galopin Des Champs and ran almost exactly to his rating. Nice enough, but it’s easy to take a secondary view, that Gerri Colombe simply did not run to form.

Over the week, there were many good performances either side of the water, with novices over here from such as Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls leading the way. In other words, they were provided by those trainers with the financial owner firepower to challenge the Mullins/Elliott and De Bromhead otherwise open goal into the Irish pointing (and French) marketplaces.

That triumvirate took some collective stopping at home and most of the big level-weight races had the look of, and proved to be, Willie Mullins benefits. Willie’s brother Tony – a good friend for many years – did speak out against the obscene situation in some major handicaps, especially over fences, where multiple entries by a single trainer make success for him in them almost a formality. He was less critical of his brother’s total dominance in the big stuff, though!

The obvious example has been (and no doubt the one that caused Tony’s ire) last month’s 20-runner Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan. Elliott supplied 15 of the runners and duly won it with Coko Beach. That tough grey then showed his credentials for this year’s Grand National with a staying-on second in the 3m2f Becher Chase over the big fences last month.

Another non-winning but significant run over those obstacles had been made a month earlier by a six-year-old, already winner of three chases before that, making his season’s comeback. The son of Dream Well had evaded the, in his case, not so all-seeing eye of Harold Kirk and found his way into the Gary Moore rather than Mullins yard after an encouraging debut second in July 2020 at Clairefontaine, a nice track not far from Paris.

The horse is called Nassalam. He recorded wide-margin hurdle wins as a juvenile on arrival for Moore and now he was noted coming on late into sixth after getting a long way behind in the Grand Sefton over 2m6f.

Next time, early in December, he defied top weight with a convincing success in the Trial for the Coral Welsh Grand National over three miles of the course. Few, though, connected with the Moore yard, including the trainer, and rider Caoilin Quinn, can have expected what was to happen on Wednesday in the Welsh Grand National proper.

I have no hesitation in naming this overwhelmingly emphatic win as the National Hunt performance of the entire year. Nineteen long-distance chasers lined up, as should be the case in a 150 grand race.  Always close to the lead over the twice-round marathon in heavy ground, Nassalam was one of perhaps half a dozen with chances as they left the back straight. Here, Quinn realised to his amazement that his mount was still cantering and didn’t want to disappoint him.

He struck for home, a move that committed what was left of the feasible opposition much earlier than their riders would have wished, and once in the straight, most were taking turns to give up. In a rare show of power and stamina, he drew remorselessly away and, by the finish, had 34 lengths in hand of the strongly fancied Iron Bridge, winner of five of his nine career starts prior to Chepstow. Third, just behind, was Iwilldoit, last year’s winner of the race by nine lengths.

When the owners were interviewed as they waited to accept the prize – never the fairest time to talk to elated connections – they were asked about Aintree, and understandably that would have to be in the thoughts of Gary Moore, with his successful negotiation of the track in the Grand Sefton, but he’ll be going up a minimum of 14lb, maybe more I guess, on top of his 145 on Wednesday.

When Corach Rambler won the race last year for Lucinda Russell, he was off 146, 20lb less than the 2022 winner Noble Yeats, whose victory under Sam Waley-Cohen had also come off 146. That one did extra well considering the rise to be fourth last year. Incidentally, Noble Yeats was beaten at odds-on returning to action for the season in a four-horse conditions hurdle race at Limerick. The system doesn’t lend itself to rewarding extravagance.

Winning the Welsh Grand National, far from indicating an automatic follow-up at Aintree, if history is to be believed, connections might be better served having a good look at the Gold Cup. The chance of the heavy ground that didn’t inhibit Nassalam here is probably unlikely, but you never know.

But the Welsh race has a very decent record in throwing up future Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, and the sort of relentless gallop shown by Nassalam this week is just the requirement for the biggest level-weights test in the calendar. I’d love him to be trained for it. If he doesn’t measure up, there’s time enough to go the big step to Aintree later, if not in 2024.

Just to name a few, Burrough Hill Lad, Master Oats, Synchronised and Native River all completed the double, winning at Cheltenham following victory in Wales.

Gary Moore had an extraordinary day on Wednesday, sweeping up the three biggest prizes for a combined figure approaching £200,000 for his owners. It started with the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, often one of the key races for Triumph Hurdle candidates. Many would have veered away from tackling unbeaten Burdett Road, but the Gredley family’s youngster was a late withdrawal because of the ground by trainer James Owen.

Running away from one star is not in Gary’s DNA. He ran the likewise unbeaten Salver, a gelding that had no flat-race career to call on, unlike the withdrawn theretofore favourite. A comfortable winner of his two previous starts, he ended up the 5/4 favourite and won like one, by 21 lengths.

A brother to Saldier, one of Mullins’ better hurdlers of recent times, he can go a long way and the Triumph is not looking too far off for him now. Messrs Mullins and Elliott would have been taking notes no doubt.

Then, in some ways, the crowning glory for the yard was over at Kempton, in between the two Chepstow cakewalks, when Editeur Du Gite, like Galopin Des Champs the following day, was on a career retrieval mission.

The surprise winner of last year’s Desert Orchid Chase when it was a conditions event, he now lined up under top weight for the newly installed handicap version. As with Quinn on the horses at Chepstow, Moore was happy to rely on Niall Houlihan who could claim 3lb, as was the case with Quinn in the Welsh Grand National.

The latest injury to son Jamie has thrust these two young Irishmen into the spotlight and both have come through with many excellent performances. No searching around for big-name replacements for the Moore stable. Editeur Du Gite went off in his customary place at the front and, though challenged coming to the final bend, at the finish he was well on top.

A day to remember for the stable, but for me Nassalam’s display was one I will cherish for a long time.

Happy New Year to him, and to you all!

 - TS

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Editeur Du Gite blossoms once more in Desert Orchid

Editeur Du Gite put in a bold front-running display to land the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Handicap Chase at Kempton for the second consecutive year.

Despite being burdened with top weight of 11st 12lb, Gary Moore’s 5-1 chance battled on bravely to prevail by three lengths.

After Malystic was pulled up early on, Editeur Du Gite and Elixir De Nutz set a solid pace in the Grade Two contest.

Market leader Boothill’s bid to complete a hat-trick of victories this term ended when he fell at the fifth-last.

Up the home straight, it was the jumping of Editeur Du Gite which proved decisive, as two great leaps under Niall Houlihan put him in the clear.

Elixir De Nutz, on the other hand, made errors late on and was caught for second by Nube Negra in the closing stages.

Ladbrokes Christmas Festival – Day Two – Kempton Park
Niall Houlihan celebrates winning the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Handicap Chase on Editeur Du Gite (Adam Davy/PA)

“All the staff worked hard over Christmas and to see him come back today was very special, especially in a handicap,” said Moore.

“I think it was because he was able to lead today and dominate without being forced to. The other horse kept him company and just kept him honest.

“He will probably get further on a sharp track like this, so you’ve got to make plenty of use of him and he was always going to stay on.

“His next race will be the Game Spirit at Newbury, because he is slightly better going left-handed.

“Then you’ve got to have an entry in the Champion Chase, because he’s not getting any younger and it’s probably his last chance.”

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Nassalam makes light work of Chepstow to land Welsh National and seal special day for Gary Moore

Nassalam capped an afternoon to remember for trainer Gary Moore when showing stamina in abundance to run out an ultra-impressive winner of the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

The Lower Beeding handler had already enjoyed Grade Two success at the South Wales track and also seen his Clarence House Chase winner Editeur Du Gite bounce back to his best to defend his Desert Orchid title at Kempton before Nassalam headed out as the 9-2 joint-favourite.

Some 4lb well-in under a penalty for winning the Welsh National Trial at the course earlier this month, the six-year-old was tracking the pace set by the front-running Amateur in the early stages of what was a typically testing renewal of the marathon event.

Passing their point of departure for a second lap of Chepstow, it was only the John Flint-trained Amateur and Paul Nicholls’ Complete Unknown, scraping the paint on the inside, that were recognisable from their silks as the gruelling conditions began to take a toll.

Owned by John and Yvonne Stone, Nassalam joined Amateur midway down the back and led those left standing into the home straight for the final five fences, with Sam Thomas’ 2021 hero Iwilldoit and Complete Unknown in hot pursuit.

A blunder from Complete Unknown soon knocked the Ditcheat challenger out of contention and although Iwilldoit gamely gave chase, Nassalam was not for catching as he extended clear up the Chepstow straight.

He was 15 lengths to the good jumping two out and extended that advantage to 34 lengths as big-race jockey Caoilin Quinn added another facile triumph to Salver’s victory in the Grade two Finale Juvenile Hurdle only 40 minutes earlier.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Iron Bridge eventually claimed the silver medal, with Iwilldoit in third, but the afternoon belonged to the mud-loving Nassalam who was introduced at 25-1 by both Paddy Power and Betfair for the Randox Grand National at Aintree.

Caoilin Quinn celebrates winning the Coral Welsh Grand National on Nassalam
Caoilin Quinn celebrates winning the Coral Welsh Grand National on Nassalam (David Davies/PA)

“Last year he never had his ground and I probably ran him over the wrong trip, probably on the short side. But I think blinkers and soft ground have brought out the improvement in him,” said Moore.

“I was watching it in the parade ring at Kempton and I was just pleased when he got over the last. Watching I thought he was handy enough and he had to go six furlongs further than he did last time, but obviously Caoilin knows more than me.

“He’s a very good rider and his 3lb is very useful. He’s a good lad. The owner has been very loyal to him and let him ride the horse and he’s repaid them for it.

“He’s still only a young horse and I would like to think there will be a bit more improvement to come.

“I need to speak to the owner and he’s not going to be easy to place now, so we will need to have a chat to decide where we go next. But in the back of my mind I would like to train him for a National. If it is like when Red Marauder won it then that would be perfect.”

Of his memorable 73-1 treble, which came in the space of an hour, he went on: “They are few and far between so you have to make the most of it.

“We’ll go home now and I’ll probably go back to the yard, make sure everything is all right and give them a hand. Then I’ll go to the gym tonight, just go for a swim, and then get a bit of dinner.”

Winning rider Quinn added to Sky Sports Racing: “I winged the first and got in the ideal position just behind the leaders and I couldn’t believe how well he travelled.

Caoilin Quinn with the Coral Welsh Grand National trophy
Caoilin Quinn with the Coral Welsh Grand National trophy (David Davies/PA)

“We jumped the middle one down the back and we jumped into the lead and I was kind of thinking I don’t want to be there so soon, but he was going so well – I wish I’d had a look now, I won by quite a bit. What a great performance.

“I think the ground is a big factor and I said to Gina (groom) when it was squishing on the ground, he loves this. He just seems to travel so much better on it, he properly loves the mud.

“I’m delighted, over the moon, from winning the Grade Two the last race to this, I can’t believe it and I’m very emotional. It is all thanks to my boss and Mr and Mrs Stone for trusting me. I’ve ridden plenty of big winners for them and for them to keep me on, I’m very grateful.”

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Salver shines to give Moore another Finale success

Salver relished the gruelling conditions as he remained unbeaten over hurdles with a destructive display in the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.

An impressive winner at both Warwick and Exeter before having his sights raised for this Grade Two contest, he was made the 5-4 favourite in the hands of Caoilin Quinn following the late defection of ante-post Triumph Hurdle favourite Burdett Road on account of the deteriorating ground.

Gary Moore’s charge continued his trend of racing at the head of affairs as he disputed matters with Anthony Charlton’s Balboa, and on turning for home Salver’s class came to the fore as he took the lead three out and took off into the distance.

Balboa to his credit continued to plug on for second but Salver was in splendid isolation as he came home for an unchallenged 21-length success.

It was the second Grade Two of the season for fledgling jockey Quinn, while Moore was winning the race for the second time in three years, with Salver cut to 16-1 from 33s by Betfair for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

“I think he is special, a very nice horse,” said Moore.

“Whether he is best on heavy ground when other horses aren’t, that is the only thing that worries me.

Trainer Gary Moore was thrilled with Salver's Chepstow victory
Trainer Gary Moore was thrilled with Salver’s Chepstow victory (John Walton/PA)

“I couldn’t care less if I run him again this year, he’s a great big horse and what he has done has kind of surprised me, he’s won that well.

“I think it’s because he goes so well and his jumping was outstanding – he winged every hurdle.

“He could be anything, but I won’t spoil him this year because he could be a nice horse for next year.”

Winning owner Keith Graves told Sky Sports Racing: “I can’t believe it and it’s unbelievable how it has happened.

“Gary said have a look at this horse and I bought it and he’s won three on the spin and looks like he could go on.

“The jockey said ‘I think I could have gone faster’, which is nice. It’s been fantastic. I was involved with the Heart Of The South syndicate for six years and then I’ve been with Salver for two months and had three wins, so it’s unbelievable. It’s bigger than I imagined, fantastic.

“It’s a shame about the favourite, but you can only beat what’s in front of you. Our paths will cross in the future, but we will see what happens.”

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