Samcro back in business with Killarney victory

Samcro returned to winning form with a tenacious success in the Grade Three An Riocht Chase at Killarney.

Dual Cheltenham Festival hero Samcro has been out of sorts in just three starts since his thrilling 2020 Marsh Novices’ Chase victory.

But Gigginstown House Stud’s nine-year-old – pulled up in his last two races, both at Grade One level – was back to somewhere near his best as he pounced on the front-running Cilaos Emery after the final fence to win by a neck under Jack Kennedy for trainer Denise Foster.

Samcro was conceding weight all round and drifted out to a starting price of 6-1.

But he showed his well-being as he stuck close to the pace set by Cilaos Emery throughout, and then would not be denied in a stirring finish – while Peregrine Run, bidding to win this race for a third successive time, had to settle for third, seven lengths further adrift after a mistake at the last.

Kennedy, who also won the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the 2018 Festival on Samcro, was full of praise for his rejuvenated partner.

“He battled very well, was very tough – and we haven’t seen that since he won the Marsh Chase in Cheltenham,” he said.

“It is great to see it.

“He came off the bridle early in the straight but he stuck at it very well.

“The ground is nearly yielding on the chase course, and I think better ground could suit him better again.”

Samcro may therefore remain busy in the coming months – including a possible bid for the Galway Plate.

Kennedy added: “I think he could have a nice summer campaign on good ground – that’s the ground he wants.

“He beat a good horse today, and it is great to see him back.

“The Galway Plate could be an option – but we’ll take it from here and see how we get on.”

Tronador pounces for Pertemps victory

Jack Kennedy weaved his way through expertly on Tronador to land the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Aintree.

The lightly-raced five-year-old was the only runner trained in Ireland – by Denise Foster – among the 22-strong field for the opening race on day two of the Grand National meeting, and his victory showed the travelling contingent’s domination at the Cheltenham Festival is not letting up.

In the middle of the pack early, Tronador – who was very weak in the betting, going off 22-1 after being 8-1 overnight – found himself outpaced early in the straight.

A slow jump three from home did not help his cause, but suddenly he began to pass horses.

Long-time leader Kateson was still in front jumping the last – but Tronador landed with momentum and sprinted clear to beat Dans Le Vent by two and a half lengths, with Edwardstone running on for third.

Foster was represented by Lisa O’Neill, who said: “He ran a cracker in the Boodles two years ago and wasn’t beaten far that day. He was fresh and well and he travelled over well.

“He only squeezed into the bottom of the handicap. We were expecting him to run well, but we weren’t actually expecting him to get in.

“It’s possible he’ll go to Punchestown. It likes like he’s progressive at the trip. There might be something else for him.”

Rowland Ward just got up to win the last
Rowland Ward just got up to win the last (Tim Goode/PA)

Rowland Ward benefitted from the fitting of a first-time tongue tie to win the closing Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle for Stuart Edmunds.

The race changed markedly in complexion at the second-last flight when the strongly-fancied Copperless, who appeared to be going as well as anything else, took a crashing fall.

Henry de Bromhead’s Bold Enough had just about given his best, leaving Camprond in the lead, but Rowland Ward was produced beautifully by Charlie Hammond.

It took longer than it was maybe expected for him to wear down his rival, but the 12-1 shot won by half a length from the 9-2 favourite.

Edmunds said: “He had a wind operation (in February), which has probably helped, although he still made a bit of a noise last time – hence the tongue-tie for the first time today.

“He just hasn’t had the rub of the green really this year and this fiercely-run two miles suited him.

“He’s dug deep today, whereas in the past his wind probably has caught him out. The bit better ground has probably helped him.

“We probably thought he might want to step him up two and a half (miles). We might step him up at Sandown on the last day of the year, but we won’t be greedy.”

Abacadabras just magic in Aintree Hurdle

Abacadabras made amends for crashing out at Cheltenham when taking Grade One honours in the Betway Aintree Hurdle at the Liverpool course.

The Denise Foster-trained seven-year-old exited at the third flight in the Champion Hurdle – but bounced back to strike in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

Abacadabras (5-1) had the loose Jason The Militant for company in the closing stages and kept on strongly to hold Buzz by a length and a quarter, with Millers Bank two and a quarter lengths in third and Buveur D’Air fourth.

The latter was leading when Jason The Militant, who unseated Rachael Blackmore after jumping the seventh flight, went across him at the second-last.

The winner is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, whose racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “We thought he’d go well at Cheltenham, but he was unlucky there.

“There was no question he stayed the (two-and-a-half-mile) trip. He can idle in front and he’s been called some names in the past, but if you go through his form this season he’s had excuses.

“He needed the run the first day, he won nicely next time, he scoped badly at Leopardstown over Christmas then the ground was too heavy in the Irish Champion.

“It was unfortunate what happened at Cheltenham, but he was very good today. Jack was very good on him and I’m delighted for all at Cullentra.

“We actually thought he was a little unlucky against Shishkin as a novice, we were actually coming back at him at the line (in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle).”

Looking to the future, O’Leary said: “Hopefully he’ll come home with a smile on his face and there’s a chance he could go to Punchestown.

“I’d imagine he’ll stay hurdling next season, but we’ll have a chat about that later on.”

Abacadabras and jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Betway Aintree Hurdle
Abacadabras and jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Betway Aintree Hurdle (Tim Goode/PA)

Representing Foster was Lisa O’Neill, who said: “It was disappointing at Cheltenham. Everything seems to have worked out well and it’s great he could come here today and prove himself at this level again.

“He seemed perfectly fine after his fall. He came out of it really well so this was an option coming soon enough, but because he felt good we took the opportunity.

“He was second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle and he won the Morgiana back in November so we were confident he was going to run well coming here. It was a step up in trip, but it really suited him.

“It’s a possibility he could go to Punchestown. We’ll take him home and see how he is after the run and see what the owners want to do.”

Jack Kennedy in the frame for Tiger Roll ride at Aintree

Jack Kennedy could get the leg up on Tiger Roll for the first time since October 2017 when the dual Grand National winner runs in the Betway Bowl at Aintree next week.

Speculation over where the five-times Cheltenham Festival winner would next run ended on Friday morning when he was not declared for the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.

The 11-year-old returned to top form at Cheltenham when running out an easy winner of the cross country chase, his third victory in the race.

However, he had already been scratched from the Randox Grand National as his connections felt his handicap mark was “unfair”.

“He’s come out of Cheltenham great,” said Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown House Stud.

“His weight at Fairyhouse had no bearing on this decision. Our thinking is let’s run him in the Bowl and let the handicapper see.

“Keith (Donoghue) tends to only ride him in the cross country, so I would imagine Jack Kennedy will be riding him – but we haven’t confirmed that yet.

“Mind you, the Bowl doesn’t look a very good race this year and it’s likely to be a very small field.”

Kennedy pinching himself after Gold Cup success

Jack Kennedy is still “on cloud nine” following his WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup victory aboard Minella Indo.

The 21-year-old steered Henry de Bromhead’s charge to a length-and-a-quarter verdict over stablemate A Plus Tard in the Festival showpiece on Friday.

He was back in action at Thurles on Saturday, winning on Commander Of Fleet, after which he reflected on his Cheltenham achievement.

Rachael Blackmore congratulates Jack Kennedy after the Gold Cup
Rachael Blackmore congratulates Jack Kennedy after the Gold Cup (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “Yesterday was unbelievable, and I’m still on cloud nine. The phone nearly blew up – I had close to 300 messages.

“I never really had a moment’s worry throughout the race – and while he was pulling up on the run-in, it was idleness, and he had his ears pricked. When he heard A Plus Tard coming to him, he pulled out again.

“Everyone at home was thrilled, and it was great.”

Kennedy and Blackmore enjoyed a guard of honour at Thurles
Kennedy and Blackmore enjoyed a guard of honour at Thurles (PA)

Rachael Blackmore partnered Minella Indo’s stablemate A Plus Tard to second spot in the Gold Cup, narrowly failing to cap a spectacular week which saw her claim the leading rider title at the Festival with six winners – including the Champion Hurdle aboard Honeysuckle.

Blackmore was also in action at Thurles, with the limited personnel at the track forming a guard of honour before the third race to hail the riding stars.

She said: “It was a fantastic week and it hasn’t sunk in yet. It is hard to comprehend it all, to be honest.

“Honeysuckle was unbelievable, and I think her performance in Leopardstown (last month) fairly rubber-stamped what race to run in at Cheltenham – so it was fantastic.

“It was an unbelievable week for Henry (de Bromhead), and it was an incredible achievement.

“When you are going over with the book of rides I had, you are just hoping you can get one of them to do it – and that was a big relief when that (first win) happened.

“It is all about Cheltenham, and being able to get on the calibre of horse I was on over there – I’m still trying to draw breath after the last four days!”

Cheltenham Festival – The best moments

Another Cheltenham Festival has been and gone, but of course this year’s behind-closed-doors meeting was like no other.

While the lack of a crowd made for an unusual atmosphere, there were the typical spills and thrills on the track, with new stars anointed, old favourites eclipsed, gambles landed and bankers who blew out.

We take a look at the major talking points of the Festival:

Ride of the week

Mount Ida was almost tailed off in the early stages
Mount Ida was almost tailed off in the early stages (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Jack Kennedy’s ride on Mount Ida in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup will be talked about in the same terms as Paul Carberry’s masterpiece on Frenchman’s Creek in 2002 and other great Festival rides. Heavily backed into 3-1 favouritism, her supporters would have been forgiven if they had admitted defeat after four fences as the mare was jumping like she had never seen a fence before and was almost tailed off. Kennedy coaxed her back into contention, though, before she arrived on the bridle on the turn for home and cruised to victory.

Disappointment of the week

Henry de Bromhead on his way to meet Jack Kennedy
Henry de Bromhead on his way to meet Jack Kennedy (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Perhaps what made Kennedy’s ride on Mount Ida more meritorious was the fact that earlier in the afternoon he had suffered crushing disappointment. For many the banker of the week was Envoi Allen – transferred to Henry de Bromhead’s yard from suspended trainer Gordon Elliott – he arrived at Cheltenham unbeaten and already a dual Festival winner. However, he fell at the fourth but thankfully returned unscathed.

Biggest winning distance of the week

Appreciate It sauntered to victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Appreciate It sauntered to victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Tim Goode/PA)

The very first race of the meeting, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, produced the longest winning distance over the four days as Appreciate It sauntered to a 24-length verdict. Trained by Willie Mullins, who was winning the race for the seventh time, he was arguably only the stable’s second-string for this earlier in the season before Ferny Hollow was ruled out. Only eight lined up and main market rival Metier clearly did not run to form, but it was hard not to be impressed by the winner.

What might have been?

Hopefully Ferny Hollow makes Punchestown
Hopefully Ferny Hollow makes Punchestown (Simon Cooper/PA)

Each year countless horses miss the Festival and rob the meeting of anticipated clashes, but many have been asking just how good is Ferny Hollow? Hopefully we might not have to wait too long to find out if he recovered from a mid-season setback to make Punchestown but his form stands up to the closest scrutiny. He beat subsequent Supreme winner and stablemate Appreciate It in the Champion Bumper 12 months ago and on his hurdling debut had none other than Bob Olinger, hugely impressive in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, behind him on his one and only hurdles run.

Changing of the guard

Paisley Park could never quite get on terms with Flooring Porter
Paisley Park could never quite get on terms with Flooring Porter (David Davies/Jockey Club)

The story behind Paisley Park and the willingness of his connections to engage with the media and public over the previous three seasons has made him a huge fan favourite. Having won the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in last-gasp style, he was sent off favourite to reclaim the Stayers’ Hurdle crown he took two years ago. Beaten last year when suffering from a fibrillating heart, he could only manage third this time with no excuses other than not being able to keep up with all-the-way winner Flooring Porter and his best days may now be behind him.

Star of the week

Rachael Blackmore lit up the Festival
Rachael Blackmore lit up the Festival (Michael Steele/PA)

There is no denying racing approached this year’s Festival on the back foot after the furore of last season’s meeting going ahead as the pandemic took hold and in the wake of Elliott’s suspension. However, Rachael Blackmore waged a one-woman PR campaign. She became the first female to win the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday on the unbeaten Honeysuckle, with that win the highlight of six successes which secured the leading rider crown. With Sir Anthony McCoy and Ruby Walsh hailing her as the best jockey currently in the weighing room, her influence on future generations cannot be underestimated.

Stop the contest

The Irish contingent in the Best Mate stand
The Irish contingent in the Best Mate enclosure (Tim Goode/PA)

Had the Prestbury Cup been a boxing match, it would have been stopped by the referee after just two days. Heading into the meeting the Irish looked to hold the upper hand in many of the championship races, but few would have expected a final scoreline of 23 wins to the British-trained five. These things tend to go in cycles, we are told, and there was a time any Irish winner was heralded as great for the meeting. It has now gone full circle and if it were not for Nicky Henderson providing two victors through Shishkin and Chantry House, it would have been more embarrassing still.

Gold-en boy Kennedy in disbelief at winning jumping’s biggest prize

Jack Kennedy may only be 21, but he will have to go some to top what he declared as “the best day of my life” after winning the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup on Minella Indo.

Riding what was perceived as the Henry de Bromhead second-string, with Rachael Blackmore on A Plus Tard, Kennedy took chasing’s blue riband for the first time – and given the stables he rides for and his tender years, it is unlikely to be the last.

Do not for one minute, though, think Kennedy has been handed his privileged position on a plate. While he learned his trade on the competitive pony racing circuit in Ireland, since turning professional he has been beset by injury.

Having suffered no fewer than four broken legs and countless other broken bones, Kennedy has already missed many months of his career, but he will have plenty of opportunities to make up for lost time.

“That tops everything, without a doubt. It’s definitely the best day of my life,” said Kennedy.

“You dream about winning these races as a child. I know I’m still young, but I’ve been in the position to win them for a couple of years so it’s brilliant.

“I thought I had as good a chance as any horse in the race to be honest. I’d gone down to Henry’s to school him and a few of the lads there were fairly keen on him, so I was fairly confident going out.

“The fact that Rachael chose A Plus Tard took the pressure off me a bit as well, so it was great.”

Minella Indo leads A Plus Tard over the last
Minella Indo leads A Plus Tard over the last (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Blackmore has not got much wrong this week, but despite winning the Albert Bartlett a couple of years ago on Minella Indo and coming close to winning what is now the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, she opted for Savills Chase winner A Plus Tard.

Turning into the straight it was clear the De Bromhead pair had it between them, with Al Boum Photo, winner of the previous two renewals, clear of the rest in third.

“I had to switch in and out a couple of times as I wanted a clear view of his fences, without going wide at the same time, but it went very smooth. He travelled and jumped great and there wasn’t any point in the race I wasn’t very happy,” said Kennedy.

“The whole way through the race I was happy, but I was left in front very soon and he pricked his ears after the last. When A Plus Tard came to him, he went on again.

“Turning into the straight, I knew it would take something very good to beat him. Although I was there too soon, I didn’t want to disappoint him. I was very confident the whole way.”

Paul Townend (left) congratulates Jack Kennedy as Al Boum Photo loses his crown
Paul Townend (left) congratulates Jack Kennedy as Al Boum Photo loses his crown (Michael Steele/PA)

Kennedy could be seen wiping away tears of joy after crossing the line.

“I was emotional. This is massive and I can’t believe it’s happening to be honest. It means the world to me,” he said.

“I’ve broken my leg four times, I missed the meeting last year, but thankfully I’ve had a year this year that I’ll remember for a long time.

“Injuries can take their toll, but it could always be a lot worse at the same time, broken legs and collar bones heal. It’s unfortunate, but you just have to get on with it.

“It’s been great in the Irish bubble, so many lads have had their first winner here which is brilliant, we’re all in fairly good form in there.”

Kennedy, of course, is intrinsically linked to the Gordon Elliott yard which had been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the weeks before the Festival.

He only came in for the ride on Minella Indo when his expected mount, Delta Work, was ruled out through injury.

“I’m in such a good position that I have a very good job and any time I’ve been injured, Gordon and (Michael and Eddie) the O’Learys have always stood by me and said my job is there when I get back,” said Kennedy.

“When you’ve horses of that calibre to get back for, if you can’t get back for them there’s no point doing it.”

Minella Indo denies A Plus Tard in Gold Cup thriller

Minella Indo edged out A Plus Tard to give trainer Henry de Bromhead a one-two in the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Ridden by Jack Kennedy, Minella Indo (9-1) got the better of gallant stablemate A Plus Tard, who was partnered by Festival sensation Rachael Blackmore.

The victory capped an incredible week for De Bromhead, who also collected the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase and has had six winners in all.

Frodon and Bryony Frost made the extended three-and-a-quarter-mile showpiece a true test. With Kemboy and Black Op for company, the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon put in serious leaps through the early stage, but Nicky Henderson’s hopes were dashed early on with Champ and Santini pulled up.

Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo – seeking a third successive win in the race – was ridden patiently, while A Plus Tard always had the leaders in his sights.

Blackmore closed the door on 9-4 favourite Al Boum Photo as the field galloped down towards the home turn, and it became a fight between the two De Bromhead runners.

But Minella Indo held the upper hand and repelled the determined challenge of the runner-up to win by a length and a quarter.

Al Boum Photo was four and a quarter lengths away in third. Native River, the winner in 2018, was fourth and Frodon fifth.

De Bromhead said: “It was incredible. Jack was brilliant on Minella Indo, who is just such a tough horse.

“It’s all down to the crew at home, who work so hard. And the support of all our clients, it’s just brilliant.

Jack Kennedy celebrates
Jack Kennedy celebrates (Michael Steele/PA)

“Whatever it is about here – he’s a little bit like Put The Kettle On – he just comes alive.

“He’s fast asleep at home on a daily basis, but even saddling him today, he was like he was before the Albert Bartlett (in 2019) – he was kicking the back door and so up for it.

“We obviously had the mishap at Christmas and he wasn’t as good in the Irish Gold Cup, but we wanted to get a clear round that day and Rachael rode him brilliantly.

“It’s all come together here and it’s fantastic.

“To win a Cheltenham Gold Cup is something you dream about. I think I’m still in my hotel, it’s Monday evening and I’m about wake up and nothing’s even started yet. That’s where I’m at at the moment, it’s brilliant.”

“A Plus Tard was amazing, he ran a cracker for the Thompsons of Cheveley Park. Both jockeys were amazing, it’s just brilliant.”

De Bromhead added of riding arrangements for his pair: “Rachael had the choice. I always try to stay out of that and I left it to her.

“Everyone has been asking me on the run-up to the race which had the better chance, but I couldn’t split them.

“I don’t like to interfere (with Blackmore’s choice) as I’d hate to put her the wrong way.

“She knew they were both training well.”

When told he had become the first trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup in the same week, he said: “It is incredible to think it. I’ve been coming here plenty of years with plenty of tough results, but also some great ones. I just feel extremely lucky.

“It will be me myself and I in the car and on the ferry, there is no celebrating. It will be quarantine for five days when I get back home. I’m looking forward to getting back home and seeing the family.”

Celebrations for the Minella Indo team
Celebrations for the Minella Indo team (Tim Goode/PA)

Kennedy told ITV Racing: “I can’t believe it, this is what I’ve dreamt of since I was a child. I’m just so grateful to Henry and (owner) Barry Maloney for giving me a chance and the opportunity to ride him. I can’t thank them enough, I’ll owe them forever.

“This is what I live for. I just can’t believe this is after happening, I’m delighted.

“I was there very soon on him, but I didn’t want to disappoint him, he carried me into it and I didn’t want to be taking him back.

“I landed over the last and he pricked his ears, he was pulling up, but it wasn’t out of tiredness and when he heard Rachael coming back at him, he took off again. It’s unbelievable stuff.”

Mullins was proud of Al Boum Photo in defeat.

The Closutton trainer said: “A great run from Al Boum Photo, he ran his heart out. The winner was very unlucky last year (in what was the RSA Chase) and A Plus Tard’s form was very good in Ireland, so we’ve no excuses.

“Our fellow ran a cracker of a race and it was a great race for the three horses over the last three fences.”

He added: “Kemboy jumped very well throughout, Danny (Mullins) just said that he just started to feel the pinch after the water fence. He gave him a little breather and he just wasn’t able to get back in the race.”

Black Tears foils Concertista in Mares’ Hurdle thriller

Black Tears got up in the final strides to give trainer Denise Foster a first Cheltenham Festival winner in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

Foster is currently in charge of Gordon Elliott’s string at Cullentra House Stables in County Meath while he is serving a suspension.

Jack Kennedy produced Black Tears (11-1) with a perfectly-timed challenge to deny the Willie Mullins-trained 10-11 favourite Concertista in a thrilling finish to the two-and-a-half-mile contest.

Great White Shark and Floressa made the early running, with Roksana and Indefatigable tracking them and Concertista held up at the rear.

The complexion of the race changed coming down the hill when Roksana made her bid – but Concertista was hot on her heels.

The latter looked the likely winner when she jumped the last in front, but she had no answer to Black Tears, who got up to win by a head with Roksana two and three-quarter lengths away in third and Indefatigable fourth.

Elliott was banned for 12 months, with the last six months suspended, after an image of him sitting on a dead horse appeared on social media. Foster took over the licence at the yard last week.

Black Tears (left) and Concertista battle it out
Black Tears (left) and Concertista battle it out (Tim Goode/PA)

Kennedy said: “She jumped and travelled brilliant the whole way. The line was coming and we were just starting to get up so I was praying it wouldn’t come to soon, it didn’t, thank God.

“To be honest we’d have been delighted if she’d finished in the first three and I knew turning in I had a fair chance, as she was going to stay going. It was just a case of if the line came too soon.”

He added: “It’s massive that she’s won (given the recent headlines). The amount of effort that everyone puts in at home it’s days like these that make it all worthwhile.

“We’ve gone through a bit of a tough time, but we’ve kept going and showed that today.”

Black Tears and Jack Kennedy on the way to victory
Black Tears and Jack Kennedy on the way to victory (Michael Steele/PA)

Lisa O’Neill, yard representative, speaking from Cullentra House Stables, said: “Denise was the first one on the phone and she was absolutely over the moon as it was her first Cheltenham winner and hopefully it won’t be her last.

“Black Tears is a very genuine and consistent mare and this result is great for her owners Aidan and Caren Walsh and John Lightfoot, as they have been brilliant supporters of Cullentra House. It is fantastic for them and the whole team here.

“I think Jack Kennedy gave her a great ride. He took the paint off the rail and rode her for a bit of luck. She was beaten just over two lengths in the Coral Cup last year so to get her head in front this is great.

“She had that course form so there was no question about that and she was always going to be staying on having run over slightly further at the meeting last year.

“She showed a great bit of stamina and dug deep and battled hard when she needed to the most. We will get her back and just enjoy today. We will speak to the owners and then decide what to do next.”

Conflated picks up Grade Three honours at Naas

Conflated made the most of having his sights lowered with a wide-margin victory in the Bar One Racing Directors Plate Novice Chase at Naas.

Placed behind the high-class pair of Darver Star and Asterion Forlonge on his first two starts over fences, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding made it third time lucky at Navan in December.

He was no match for star novice Monkfish over three miles at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, but faced with three rivals on his first start since in this Grade Three contest, the seven-year-old was the 4-9 favourite under Jack Kennedy.

The lead changed hands on several occasions during the two-and-a-half-mile journey, but Conflated’s superior class told from the home turn and he passed the post with 21 lengths in hand over Waitnsee.

Winning trainer Denise Foster was enjoying her first success at graded level, having recently taken over the licence at Cullentra House Stables from the suspended Gordon Elliott.

Foster, who landed a treble at Navan on Saturday, said: “It was the perfect race for him and on ratings he was entitled to win. He’ll probably head to Fairyhouse and Punchestown.

“He did it well and was happy bowling along in front. He jumped great and stayed on well.”

On Eagles Wings with Charlie Swan (left), Harry Swan (second right) and Timmy Hyde
On Eagles Wings with Charlie Swan (left), Harry Swan (second right) and Timmy Hyde (Alan Magee/PA)

On Eagles Wings took the other Grade Three on the card, the Bar One Racing ‘Download Our App’ Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle.

The 11-2 chance is trained by Timmy Hyde and was ridden by his grandson Harry Swan – son of the great Charlie Swan.

Charlie Swan said afterwards: “He jumped great and I’d say his jumping won it for him.

“That’s just Harry’s third ride over hurdles, but he’s had a good few rides in hunter chases and point-to-points. He’s had two winners and a second now over hurdles.

“I was roaring a bit, which was probably quite embarrassing when I think of it, but that was great. I can see what my mother went through as you are always a bit nervous, but that was fantastic and he gave him a great ride.”

Kennedy ‘delighted’ to keep ride on Envoi Allen

Jack Kennedy has spoken of his relief at news he will keep the ride on Envoi Allen at the Cheltenham Festival, despite the unbeaten superstar being switched from Gordon Elliott to Henry de Bromhead earlier this week.

Leading owner-breeders Cheveley Park Stud removed Envoi Allen and seven of his stable companions from Elliott’s care on Tuesday, following the image involving the trainer that was posted and widely shared on social media last weekend.

Kennedy, who has taken over in the saddle from the injured Davy Russell aboard Envoi Allen this season, might have feared he would lose the plum ride on the seven-year-old to De Bromhead’s stable jockey Rachael Blackmore.

Envoi Allen has carried all before him so far
Envoi Allen has carried all before him so far (PA)

However, Cheveley Park confirmed Kennedy will not only retain the mount when Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase in a fortnight’s time, but he will also partner Ballyadam and Quilixios – who have also joined Bromhead – for their respective Festival assignments.

Speaking after riding the Elliott-trained Daphne Moon to success at Fairyhouse on Friday, Kennedy told Racing TV: “I’m kind of a lucky one, getting to keep the rides on Envoi Allen, Quilixios and Ballyadam.

“When you’re riding horses like that and you’re kind of comfortable that barring an injury you’re going to be riding them, and then something like this happens, you’re kind of all over the place. I’m delighted that I’m keeping the rides on them.”

Kennedy has plenty of sympathy for his colleagues at Elliott’s Cullentra House stables, adding: “It’s tough for everyone in the yard.

“They were devastated when those horses were leaving and it’s just a massive blow to a team that work so hard.”

Minella Indo will be ridden by Jack Kennedy in the Gold Cup
Minella Indo will be ridden by Jack Kennedy in the Gold Cup (Brian Lawless/PA)

In another boost to his Festival hopes, Kennedy has been booked by De Bromhead to partner Minella Indo in the Gold Cup, with Blackmore preferring his Cheveley Park-owned stablemate A Plus Tard.

Minella Indo was last seen finishing fourth behind Kemboy when favourite for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

“I was kind of left with no ride in the race and Henry rang me last week and asked if I would ride him,” said the jockey.

“It’s brilliant to pick up a spin like that. I was down in Henry’s on Tuesday and popped him over a few fences and got a feel of him.

“I’m really looking forward to the ride. You can forgive a horse a bad run and I’m delighted to have got the ride.”

Elliott records Punchestown four-timer

Black Tears initiated a four-timer for Gordon Elliott at Punchestown on Monday with victory in the Quevega Mares Hurdle.

Elliott, who is under investigation by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board over an image posted on social media on Saturday, sent a strong team of horses to County Kildare for Punchestown’s latest fixture, but was not in attendance himself.

With the Willie Mullins-trained Great White Shark a significant non-runner, Black Tears was the 2-5 favourite for the Grade Three opener – and ultimately got the job done with relative ease.

Black Tears after winning at Punchestown
Black Tears after winning at Punchestown (Alan Magee/PA)

After tracking The Getaway Star for much of for much of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, the seven-year-old moved strongly to the head of affairs on the approach to the final flight and pulled five lengths clear on the run-in in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

“It was very straightforward. She jumped and travelled well,” said the jockey.

“She picked off the leader easily and was idle up the straight.

“She jumped very well.”

Papal Lodge in action at Punchestown
Papal Lodge in action at Punchestown (Niall Carson/PA)

Elliott and Kennedy combined for two more winners later in the afternoon, with Papal Lodge justifying 4-5 favouritism in division one of the Punchestown Festival Of A Different Colour Maiden Hurdle, and Coach Carter springing a 16-1 surprise in division two.

Kennedy added: “Papal Lodge seemed to be the best horse in the race, so I wanted to keep it simple on him. He jumped and travelled great and has done it well.

“Hopefully he can keep improving and there will be more to come from him.

“Coach Carter jumped great and travelled well. He’s a nice horse and hopefully he’ll keep improving.”

Elliott’s fourth winner of the day came in the concluding bumper, with 15-8 favourite Mighty Potter scoring readily under Jamie Codd.

Coko Beach delivers again in Ten Up contest

Thyestes Chase hero Coko Beach followed up in the Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.

Three and a half weeks on from his lucrative handicap success at Gowran Park, Gordon Elliott’s grey was the 5-4 favourite at Grade Two level in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

It was not entirely straightforward for the market leader though, with Espanito Bello looking a major threat halfway up the home straight.

However, just when he appeared to be getting the better of the argument, Espanito Bello stumbled on landing after jumping the final fence – handing the initiative back to Coko Beach, who went on to score by four lengths.

“Jack said he’s better in a big field, with horses around him, where something can keep him travelling,” said Elliott.

“I was standing out on the track and I wasn’t sure whether he would have won or not. Jack said he thought he would have.

“He said he needed the jump to win it and he got it.”

Coko Beach holds several entries at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, but Elliott added: “I’d imagine we’ll keep him at home and he might go for the Irish Grand National.”

Hugh Morgan and Young Dev on the way to an amazing victory
Hugh Morgan and Young Dev on the way to an amazing victory (Niall Carson/PA)

Hugh Morgan produced one of the most sensational riding performances of the season to steer the Denis Hogan-trained Young Dev to victory in the Racing Again March 6th Handicap Chase.

The 17-2 chance appeared to have lost all chance after jumping the very first fence, with a tack problem leaving the conditional jockey to ride the remainder of the three-mile journey without irons.

Just to successfully complete the course would have been a tremendous feat, but miraculously, Morgan managed to get his mount into contention and drove him out on the run-in to secure the most remarkable of wins by three-quarters of a length from Se Mo Laoch.

Explaining what had happened, Morgan said: “My right stirrup broke after the first and I kicked it out. I’m grand at the minute, but I’d say I’ll be sore in the morning!

“The horse had run plenty of times, so I said I might as well keep going. It took a bit of getting used to going down to the fences without them (irons) and I just left him to sort himself out and gave him a squeeze.

“It was great – it was something new anyway! It’s my first ride for Denis, so it’s very important to get a win.”

Elliott and Kennedy doubled up for the day with Frontal Assault (4-1) in the Grade Three Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle – a late addition to the meeting after being saved and rescheduled following the abandonment of racing at Clonmel on Thursday.

Frontal Assault (left) jumps the final flight at Navan
Frontal Assault (left) jumps the final flight at Navan (Niall Carson/PA)

Elliott said: “He was way too keen with the blinkers in Leopardstown.

“He’ll be a grand, big staying chaser. He really stayed well there.

“He’ll get an entry in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham and we’ll see what happens. The likes of Punchestown might not be ideal for him if the ground gets too quick.”

The Cullentra handler went on to complete a four-timer, with Fierami springing a 25-1 surprise in the Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Hurdle under Jordan Gainford, and 470,000 euros purchase Ginto and Jamie Codd justifying 5-6 favouritism in the bumper.

Atlantic Fairy secured Listed honours for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore in the Apple’s Jade Mares Novice Hurdle – getting the better of fellow 11-4 joint-favourite Global Equity by a length and three-quarters.

“I’m delighted with that and she’s a lovely mare,” said de Bromhead.

“She got hurt last year and we had to leave her off, but she’s come back really well and is doing it all well.

“I think she’ll improve for the run as she hasn’t run since Christmas.

“She’s entered at Cheltenham, but we’ll see as there is also the mares’ novice hurdle at Fairyhouse, which is only a couple of weeks after. That might be the more sensible route for her.”

Coko Beach triumphs in Thyestes test

Coko Beach led home a one-two for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park.

Elliott and Gigginstown had previously teamed up to win the prestigious handicap with Monbeg Notorious in 2018 and were well represented once more, with Coko Beach one of four runners for the combination, while Gigginstown had seven representatives overall.

Fitted with blinkers for the first time, Coko Beach travelled strongly throughout the three-mile-one-furlong contest in the hands of Jack Kennedy and hit the front early in the home straight.

From that point the 8-1 shot never looked in serious danger of being caught and safely negotiated the remaining obstacles to seal a four-length verdict, with stable companion Run Wild Fred best of the rest in second.

Elliott’s great rival Willie Mullins saddled the third, fourth and fifth in Class Conti, Saturnas and Acapella Bourgeois respectively.

Kennedy, winning the race for a second time after steering Monbeg Notorious home in front three years ago, said of Coko Beach: “He’s been struggling to win a beginners’ chase.

“Gordon asked me the other morning what I’d like to ride in it and I was thinking Farclas, but he didn’t show up here. Gordon fancied this lad and I went with what he said and thank God he was right.

“I got left at the start, but he winged the first and was able to travel well enough to get me into a position. I was handy the whole way and on that ground you are not going to get too many coming from behind.

“The blinkers sharpened him up an awful lot and he travelled a lot better than he has been.

“It’s a big race and one of the biggest handicaps of the year, so it’s great to win it.”

Coko Beach’s odds for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival were widely slashed, and Elliott’s assistant Ian ‘Busty’ Amond confirmed that contest as a likely target.

He said: “Gordon was sweet enough on him and Jack picked him. The blinkers obviously did the trick – he jumped great and travelled great and he was the winner from a long way out.

“I’d imagine he will be on the team for Cheltenham after that and I think the National Hunt Chase is the one Gordon has in mind. He’ll have a few easy days after this and we might have a look at the Irish National as well.

“Sean (Flanagan) was delighted with Run Wild Fred. He was never going to get to your man in front, but he kept at it well and there should be a big day in him as well.”

Percy Warner prevails in Fairyhouse feature

Gordon Elliott was on course for only the second time since testing positive for coronavirus to witness Percy Warner claim a dramatic victory in the feature event at Fairyhouse on Tuesday.

The Cullentra handler was unable to travel to either Leopardstown or Limerick over the Christmas period as he had to undergo a period of isolation after contracting Covid-19.

He returned to the racecourse at Fairyhouse on January 3 and was back at the Ratoath venue for the track’s latest fixture.

Elliott said: “I don’t know how I got it (coronavirus). Everyone in the yard was tested and everybody (else) was negative.

“I’ve done my isolation. I had a couple of rough days – it was like having bad flu. I had no energy at all, but I’m fine now, thank God.”

With Never Do Nothing and, more notably, the prolific Dreal Deal taken out, Percy Warner was one of just three runners who went to post for the Fairyhouse Racing From Home Webpage Hurdle.

Following an impressive chase victory at the track last month, Jessica Harrington’s Sizing Pottsie was the 4-9 favourite – and everything appeared to be going to script for much of the two-mile contest.

The market leader was weary, but held a long lead on the run to the final flight, when he took a tired fall under Paddy Kennedy.

His exit left Percy Warner (11-4) and the Willie Mullins-trained Low Sun to fight it out and it was the former who clung on by half a length in the hands of Jack Kennedy following a ding-dong battle on the run-in.

“We were probably a lucky winner with the horse falling. I wasn’t even watching the leader jumping the last, I was watching the other two,” Elliott added.

“Jack said the leader was tying up very quickly going to the last. He said our horse probably needed more runners around him and a more competitive race. He was left in no man’s land on his own. He’s only had one run on the track.

“He’s a grand horse. He was bought to be a chaser and that’s what he’s going to be. This was a nice race to win.”

Duc D’Allier had earlier made a successful return from 949 days off the track in the Fairyhouse Supporting Local Business Beginners Chase.

Joseph O’Brien’s 9-2 chance had not been seen in competitive action since winning a maiden hurdle at Clonmel in the summer of 2018 when trained by Henry de Bromhead, but proved he retains plenty of ability with an eight-and-a-half-length success under JJ Slevin.

O’Brien’s assistant, Brendan Powell, said: “It was a good performance. He does everything right at home.

“He was in last year and was nearly ready to run when the ground went quick. He’s a big horse and obviously had a few problems as it’s June 2018 since he last ran.

“He’s always jumped well and galloped well. It probably wasn’t the greatest race in the world, but he can’t do it any better than that.”

O’Brien and Slevin doubled up with Fun Light (11-4) in the Fairyhouse Racecourse Maiden Hurdle.

Charles Byrnes and Kevin Brouder combined to land the Bar One Racing Supporting Irish Injured Jockeys Maiden Hurdle, with 2-5 favourite Light Brigade getting the better of Purdey’s Gift by just half a length.

“It was a good opportunity as he was getting 8lb and he likes the ground,” said Byrnes.

“He had things in his favour today as he was well-in. He made heavy enough work of it, but he won anyway.

“It’s great to get the win out of him. He’ll probably go handicapping now.”

Trainer John McConnell was fined 3,000 euros, jockey Conor Walsh banned for 21 days and Tango Theatre suspended from running for 60 days after her fourth place in that race.

The stewards inquired into her effort and found the six-year-old had not obtained the best possible placing.