Beacon edges Boyne Hurdle as Tiger Roll trails home

Dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll remains on course for the Cheltenham Festival despite finishing a tailed-off last of six runners behind Beacon Edge in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan.

A surprise winner of this Grade Two contest two years ago before going on to seal his second success at Aintree a couple of months later, Tiger Roll returned to Navan on a recovery mission following a disappointing start to his season around Cheltenham’s cross-country course.

However, while the 11-year-old travelled strongly for much of the two-mile-five-furlong journey under Keith Donoghue, he weakened out of contention early in the home straight and finished some 48 lengths behind the fifth placed Decor Irlandais.

Tiger Roll in action at Navan on Sunday
Tiger Roll in action at Navan on Sunday (Niall Carson/PA)

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Trainer Gordon Elliott was not too disappointed as he felt conditions were against his runner, who is now set to head for the Glenfarclas Chase at the Festival next month.

Elliott said: “Keith said he travelled well to the third last, in horrible ground, and just got tired.

“It’s still all systems go for Cheltenham. Keith said he was happy with him, but he just got tired in the ground. He’ll be OK.

“Of course you want him to run better, but he hated that ground.”

At the business end of proceedings, it was the other two Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners who fought out the finish.

Tiger Roll’s stablemate Fury Road was the 11-8 favourite in the hands of Jack Kennedy and cut out much of the running before being joined by the Noel Meade-trained Beacon Edge (15-8) and Sean Flanagan after the final obstacle.

No quarter was given by either horse or jockey after the final flight, but it was Beacon Edge who pushed ahead where it mattered to prevail by a neck.

Meade said of the winner: “He had a colic at Christmas and he spent nearly a week in Kildare. Even though we thought he was at the time, he just wasn’t himself on his last run at Naas.

“He’s a fair horse. I wondered about him getting the trip, but he stays.

“Michael (O’Leary, owner) had it in his head that he’d go to Liverpool (Aintree) for the two-and-a-half-mile race (Aintree Hurdle), but he is in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. We have Diol Ker for that as well and we’ll see what turns up in it.”

Thedevilscoachman lifts Punchestown Listed honours

Thedevilscoachman continued his progression with a fourth win from five career starts at Punchestown on Sunday.

Successful on his racecourse debut in a bumper at Naas last season, Noel Meade’s charge made a victorious start over hurdles at Cork in November, before finishing fifth behind Appreciate It in Grade One company at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.

Having since bounced back to winning ways at Navan, the JP McManus-owned five-year-old was the 15-8 favourite as he stepped back up in class for the Listed I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle.

And after travelling strongly for much of the two-mile contest under Mark Walsh, there was a lot to like about the way he knuckled down after the final flight to see off American challenger French Light by two lengths.

Paddy Power left Thedevilscoachman unchanged at 16-1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

Meade said: “It was a nice race for him. He’s so laidback – he just does whatever you want him to do.

“I’ll have to talk to JP and Frank (Berry, owner’s racing manager) about plans and see what they are thinking. We’ll see where the handicapper puts him in.

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“He’s a nice horse to have. When you pick him up he has a great turn of foot, which is what you want in a real racehorse.”

Shady Operator also emerged as a potential Cheltenham contender for McManus after justifying even-money favouritism in the opening P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase.

Making his cross-country debut for trainer Enda Bolger, the eight-year-old took to it like a duck to water in the hands of Derek O’Connor to leave connections contemplating whether to have a crack at the Glenfarclas Chase in the Cotswolds.

“He did it well. He’s an experienced handicapper, but it was his first time over the course. He’d taken well to the banks at home and Derek said he was very professional,” said Bolger.

“We’ll see now how he is after this. I don’t know whether he’d be good enough to go to Cheltenham or not. He could be a horse to come back here in the spring, but we’ll see when we get him home and talk to the boss man.

“It’s Derek’s first winner over the banks.”

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend combined to land both divisions of the Happy Birthday Sarah Ann Madden Maiden Hurdle, with Pont Aval (9-2) bouncing back to form in division one and Jungle Boogie (2-13 favourite) claiming his second win from as many starts in division two.

Mullins said of Pont Aval: “She’d been doing nice work at home for the last couple of weeks. She was disappointing at Christmas and it’s good to see her back to form.

“Two and a half miles plus will be the programme for her for the rest of the season.”

Jungle Boogie may have earned himself a place on the champion trainer’s Cheltenham team following his 30-length success.

“He’s a brave horse and he was just a bit keen with Paul. He likes to get on about his job, likes to get on with jumping. I think he was too keen to jump well,” Mullins added.

“He looks a decent sort and we’ll see if the owner wants to travel (to Cheltenham) with him. He’s well entered up and could be one for the Ballymore or Albert Bartlett, but he could be very keen to be going for one of those races.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this first.”

Dermot McLoughlin’s Thunderosa (15-2) claimed the David Trundley Artist At Punchestown Handicap Hurdle under 7lb claimer Paddy O’Hanlon, before Jack Kennedy steered the Liz Doyle-trained Farmix (4-1) to an impressive win in the Punchestown Festival Of A Different Colour Rated Novice Chase.

Doyle said: “He’s not a quick horse, but he jumps so well and has such a big, long stride that we’ll keep him to two (miles).

“He might get an entry in a handicap in Cheltenham. He’s not overly experienced, so we’ll see what happens.”

Gigolo’ Dai Dai (10-1) won the concluding bumper for trainer Henry de Bromhead and jockey David Roche.

Daly Tiger roars at Fairyhouse

Daly Tiger sprang a 20-1 surprise in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.

Noel Meade’s eight-year-old, carrying the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, put behind him a disappointing effort on this course five weeks ago to lift the valuable prize.

Sean Flanagan kept Daly Tiger off the pace set by the trio of Goulane Chosen, the 7-4 favourite Chatham Street Lad and Game Of War in the early stages.

He made stealthy progress as the pack closed in when Chatham Street Lad, impressive winner of Cheltenham’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, took the lead four out with a fine leap.

However, Daly Tiger soon joined and hit the front two out. Pont Aven made a late bid, but Daly Tiger stuck to his task well to win by five lengths. Chatham Street Lad was seven lengths away in third place.

“We put a claimer on him the last day. It probably wasn’t the claimer’s fault because he got his instructions to ride closer to the pace and I think we used him up a little bit too much,” said Meade.

“Today when Sean got him relaxed, he was just a different kettle of fish. He’s a brilliant jumper and he’s a nice horse.

“He’s going to get a fair old penalty for today so it might knock him out of handicaps.

“We’ll enter him in the Grand Annual (at Cheltenham), but I would imagine he’s going to have a lot of weight in that. I would think we’d probably look at Grade Threes. We’ll have a look where we go.

“I thought he’d go for a two-mile-five handicap in Leopardstown at the (Dublin) Festival meeting, but I’d say that’s a 150 race and I don’t think he’d get into that now.”

Chatham Street Lad headlines Fairyhouse entries

Cheltenham heroes Chatham Street Lad and The Shunter could lock horns in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The Mick Winters-trained trained Chatham Street Lad was a brilliant winner of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Prestbury Park last month, while The Shunter won the Greatwood Hurdle in November for Emmet Mullins.

The pair are among 25 remaining contenders for this weekend’s 75,000 euros contest, with Joseph O’Brien’s Front View and Impact Factor from Jessica Harrington’s yard potentially bidding to follow up recent course wins.

Gordon Elliott has left in six horses, including Chosen Mate, winner of the Grand Annual at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, while Willie Mullins has both Fan De Blues and Pont Aven.

Noel Meade’s Daly Tiger made an impressive start to the current campaign at Punchestown in November, but disappointed at Fairyhouse on his latest appearance.

Meade said: “Daly Tiger may run in the Dan Moore at Fairyhouse on Saturday. We’ll see how things progress this week.

“I don’t know why he ran so poorly the last day. Nothing went right for him and we’ll just have to put a line through it.”

Also featuring on Saturday’s card is the ITM Virtual Stallion Trail Hurdle, for which Gordon Elliott has entered Quilixios.

An impressive winner at both Punchestown and Down Royal, he tops a bumper entry of 17 along with the Willie Mullins-trained Youmdor.

Noel Meade enjoys birthday winner as Bloke delivers at Cork

Hes A Hardy Bloke provided Noel Meade with a winner on his 70th birthday with victory in the opening race at Cork on Saturday.

The Tu Va handler has established himself as one of the great Irish National Hunt trainers of the modern era since saddling his first winner some 50 years ago – and has won the Irish trainers’ title on multiple occasions.

Meade’s many Grade One winners include Harchibald, Go Native, Pandorama and Road To Riches.

Carrying the colours of six-times Cheltenham Festival-winning mare Quevega, Hes A Hardy Bloke was the 11-8 favourite for the GAIN Rated Novice Hurdle – and was not hard pressed to beat Takarengo by four lengths in the hands of Sean Flanagan.

The jockey said: “Happy days – it’s nice to get one for the birthday boy!

“The have gone a really nice gallop in the ground. He is a horse we thought had a very high cruising speed, but he has got through the ground quite well and has done it easily.”

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The Mouse Morris-trained Gentlemansgame ran out a wide-margin winner of the Maiden Hurdle.

A 250,000 euros purchase two months ago after impressing on his sole start in the point-to-point field, the grey looked an exciting recruit judged on this 21-length demolition job under Rachael Blackmore.

“He is a real chaser – he is a good, genuine type of horse who loves jumping and should have a nice future over fences,” said Morris.

“He wouldn’t show you a whole lot at home. We’ll now talk to Robcour (owner Brian Acheson) and see what they want to do.”

Willie Mullins continued his fantastic run of form, with the champion trainer’s nephew Danny Mullins steering Koshari to glory in the GAIN Handicap Hurdle.

The 4-1 shot defied a lengthy absence of 875 days to score by three and a half lengths from Fairyhill Run.

“It was nice to get it and it’s a proper training performance from Willie to have him back here in that shape after a long lay-off,” said the winning rider.

“He has done well physically from his break, did it well today and hopefully he can pick up a few more races.”

Velvet Elvis was an 11-8 winner of the Happy New Year From All At Cork Maiden Hurdle for Tom Gibney and Darragh O’Keeffe, before Robert Tyner and Phillip Enright combined to land the Thanks To All The Frontline Workers Beginners Chase with even-money shot Exit To The West.

Enright said: “She was entitled to do that on her form – she jumps and she stays and is proven on her two chase runs.

“She didn’t really do any more than you’d expect with the type of race it was.”

Robert Widger is eyeing high-profile races at Leopardstown and Cheltenham for Treacysenniscorthy after claiming top honours in the GAIN Handicap Chase, with Kevin Brouder the winning rider.

Widger said: “He’s racing off a lower mark than his hurdles rating and probably a lot of those horses today were exposed, so off his hurdles mark you’d have given him a chance.

“The Leopardstown Chase is one aim and there’s a Grand National trial at Naas over three miles and four furlongs in March. We’ll aim him for Leopardstown and if the ground is OK he’ll go for that.

“We half-thought he might be entitled to a little squeak in something like the Kim Muir at Cheltenham – three miles and two furlongs on better ground would suit him.”

Dot Love’s Betty Zane was a surprise 25-1 winner of the concluding bumper.

2020 Ladbrokes Champion Chase Trends

Staged at Down Royal racecourse in Ireland this Saturday’s (31st October 2020) Ladbrokes Champion Chase (formerly the Chase) always attracts some of the best chasers from both England and Ireland.

Run over 3m the Grade 1 contest has been won by greats such as Kauto Star, Beef Or Salmon, Looks Like Trouble and Florida Pearl in the past. With top UK trainer Paul Nicholls winning 4 of the last 13 renewals then anything he sends across the Irish Sea should be respected, while the powerful Gordon Elliott camp have also saddled three of the last 7 winners.

Also note the Noel Meade stable, as they have landed three of the last six renewals, including the last two runnings with Road To Respect, but isn’t entered in the 2020 race, while it's a race the Gigginstown House Stud horses have done very well in recently - they've won ALL of the last seven runnings!

Here at we are on hand with all the key stats head of the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday 31st October 2020

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Recent Ladbrokes Champion Chase Winners

2019 – ROAD TO RESPECT (5/2)
2018 – ROAD TO RESPECT (6/4 fav)
2017 – OUTLANDER (16/1)
2016 – VALSEUR LIDO (2/1 fav)
2015 – DON COSSACK (2/11 fav)
2014 ROAD TO RICHES (9/2)
2013 – ROI du MEE (12/1)
2012 – KAUTO STONE (4/1)
2011 – QUITO de la ROQUE (11/4 fav)
2010 – KAUTO STAR (4/7 fav)
2009 – THE LISTENER (7/1)
2008 – KAUTO STAR (2/5 fav)
2007 – TARANIS (10/11 fav)
2006 – BEEF OR SALMON (11/4)
2005 – No Race
2004 – BEEF OR SALMON (Evs)
2003 – GLENELLY GALE (7/1)
2002 – MORE THAN A STROLL (20/1)
2001 – FOXCHAPEL KING (4/1)

Ladbrokes Champion Chase Betting Trends

16/18 – Had won at least a Grade 2 Chase before
14/18 – Had won at least 5 times over fences before
14/18 – Had won over at least 3m over fences before
13/18 – Aged 8 or older
13/18 – Winning distance 2 ½ lengths or more
12/18 – Returned 9/2 or shorter in the betting
11/18 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
11/18 – Had won a Grade 1 Chase before
9/18 – Having their first run of the season (including 8 of last 12 winners)
9/18 – Had run at Down Royal before
8/18 – Won by a Gigginstown House Stud-owned horse (all of last 7)
8/18 – Winning favourites
5/18 – Raced at Aintree last time out
4/18 – Raced at Limerick last time out
4/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
4/18 – Won their last race
3/18 – Trained by Gordon Elliott (3 of the last 7)
3/18 – Trained by Noel Meade (3 of last 6)
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 5/1








Meade lines up Hatton’s Grace for Beacon Edge

Noel Meade is keen to have a crack at next month’s Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse with his improving youngster Beacon Edge.

Denied a run at any of the spring festivals because of the pandemic, Beacon Edge has returned to action early this season and already has two wins on the board.

The most recent came in Grade Three company at Galway from two well-regarded types, and Meade feels he has earned a step up in class on November 29.

“I’m keen on the Hatton’s Grace – because it was either that or the Lismullen, but I think the Lismullen comes up just a little quick,” said Meade.

“Running in the Hatton’s Grace will also give us a chance to find out exactly where we are.

“I’ve always thought a lot of this horse. He’d won a bumper for Nicky Richards at Ayr, and then Eddie (O’Leary, Gigginstown Stud racing manager) bought him from the Cheltenham sale for me.

“We ran him in two winners’ bumpers in Leopardstown and Punchestown but we probably didn’t make enough use of him, he stayed on well.”

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Meade added: “He won his maiden hurdle, and I wanted him to go to Cheltenham, but Michael (O’Leary) wanted him to go to Liverpool. I even rang Michael the day the horses were leaving for Cheltenham – but Michael said ‘what part of no don’t you understand’, so he didn’t go!

“Of course Liverpool and Punchestown were then off. He did have two runs at home – he was beaten a nose at Naas and a neck at Navan, but they were over two miles, and he wants further.

“I think he’s done well over the summer and he was impressive at Galway the other day – but I don’t know what he beat.”

Another youngster in the Gigginstown colours Meade has high hopes for is Diol Ker, who had some classy hurdles form to his name but fell on his recent chasing debut.

Diol Ker fell on his chasing debut but Noel Meade still rates him highly
Diol Ker fell on his chasing debut, but Noel Meade still rates him highly (Niall Carson/PA)

He said: “Diol Ker is ok. (Jockey) Sean (Flanagan) felt he was just too fresh.

“He’d been jumping very well at home. He’s a nice horse – he beat Willie’s who won the three-miler at Cheltenham (Monkfish) on his only run last season and then had a small setback.

“I’ve always thought jumping fences would suit him better, but that was a bad way to start. Because of covid, you can’t take them to a track to school – which is a shame.

“He wants a trip. I’d be hoping he’ll be running in the three-miler at Cheltenham by the end of the season.”

This year’s Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan comes a little earlier in the season than normal, but it is a race Meade tries to target, and he has won it twice with Heist and Tout Est Permis.

He has three entries this year in Cap York, Brace Yourself and Valdieu.

“I’m chairman at Navan, so that’s one reason I love to have winners there, but I am only six or seven miles away,” he said.

“We’ve been lucky enough to win it a couple of times.

“We’ve three entered, but the most likely runner is probably Brace Yourself. I think three miles will be right up his alley, and his run at Galway won’t have done him any harm.”

Of course, entries for races like the Troytown these days are dominated by Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott – and while Meade counts them both as friends, he admits the days of him adding to his seven champion trainer titles look over for the foreseeable future.

“It’s extremely difficult, but I’ve always said training horses isn’t the most difficult part of the game – it’s getting the horses,” he said.

“It’s a bit like being a jockey – if you’re winning races you get on better horses. Usually what happens is those who win in the sale win on the track. But you’ve got to be successful on the track to get the people to buy horses.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen or will see Willie’s like again. He’s done things with horses the great Vincent (O’Brien) would struggle with. He takes them to Japan, Australia, everywhere – phenomenal.

“Gordon has been phenomenal since he started, and I’m lucky enough to call both of them my friends. Gordon has a fantastic brain – he’s very dedicated to winning the championship and races, and Willie is the same. You have to be like that.

“When you are not chasing the championship as hard it’s easier. When you were chasing it, the minute the season was over you wanted to get going again, but it took quite a bit out of you and you don’t enjoy it as much.

“It’s not that I don’t want to win all the time – of course I do – but when you chase the championship it puts an awful lot of pressure on you.”

Spring return possible as comeback trail beckons for Road To Respect

Road To Respect has yet to return to full training, but Noel Meade still hopes the four-time Grade One winner could make it back in time for the spring festivals.

The nine-year-old was last seen finishing third in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown last Christmas – after which he picked up an injury, which Meade tends to feel was down to the quick ground at that meeting.

He had previously beaten dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux in the Down Royal Champion Chase.

“Road To Respect had a little bit of filling in his leg after doing his tendon at Leopardstown,” said Meade.

“Over the last couple of years, it’s been very quick there, and we ended up having to fire him.

“He’s not back in training yet – I would hope he’ll be back in the next month or so and that he might be able to run in the spring.

“But, until we have him back and put him back in the gym, we really won’t know whether he’s going to be back this season or not.

“He’s a genuine Grade One staying chaser – but to be honest, the ground at Leopardstown has been a bit of his undoing. I don’t think he got over his run there the year before last (beaten a short-head by Bellshill) before he went to Cheltenham.

“He probably struggled to get the Gold Cup trip – three miles might be as far as he wants, but it’s hard to say that.

“A lot of times in the Gold Cup horses who stay three miles don’t actually get those last two furlongs, because it’s a real stamina-sapping contest.”

Delta Work and Presenting Percy still on course to clash at Down Royal

Stable companions Delta Work and Presenting Percy remain on course for a fascinating clash at Down Royal after featuring among 11 horses to stand their ground for the Ladbrokes Champion Chase.

Delta Work claimed a Grade One double at Leopardstown last season, with victories in the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup – and Presenting Percy finishing behind him on both occasions.

Both horses were last seen running in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, with Delta Work finishing fifth and Presenting Percy falling two fences from home when still in contention.

Presenting Percy has since joined Gordon Elliott from Pat Kelly’s yard and is set to debut for his new trainer on Saturday.

Presenting Percy is now with Gordon Elliott
Presenting Percy is now with Gordon Elliott (David Davies/PA)

Elliott’s formidable hand is further strengthened by Alpha Des Obeaux, The Storyteller, Shattered Love and Ravenhill. The first three named also have the option of travelling to Wetherby for the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on the same afternoon.

Henry de Bromhead has Balko Des Flos and Chris’s Dream still in contention, while the in-form Noel Meade could call upon Snow Falcon and Tout Est Permis.

Denis Hogan’s mare Moyhenna completes the acceptors.

Samcro looks set to be the star attraction in the Grade Two Lough Construction Ltd. Steeplechase on the same card.

Elliott’s charge bounced back to his best to beat Melon and Faugheen in a thrilling Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last season, and has long been pencilled in to make his reappearance in the second-season novice event.

Elliott has also entered Battleoverdoyen – while De Bromhead could run Arkle disappointment Notebook, and Willie Mullins has given the option to Easy Game.

Sizing Pottsie, Yaha Fizz and Zero Ten are the other hopefuls.

Beacon Edge sets up Hatton’s Grace bid with Galway triumph

Beacon Edge confirmed himself a smart prospect with victory in the Marlin Hotel Dublin, Supporting The National Breast Cancer Institute Hurdle at Galway.

Trained by Noel Meade and sent off the 10-11 favourite for the Grade Three contest, the Sean Flanagan-ridden six-year-old tracked the mare Minella Melody for much of the journey, with the pace hotting up going to two out.

The market principals jumped it almost together, but by the final flight the Meade runner had taken command.

Flanagan was able to coast home after the last, with the margin of victory four and three-quarter lengths over Minella Melody, whose only previous defeat over hurdles had been when favourite for the mares’ novices’ hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The Gigginstown House Stud-owned winner is now set to tackle Grade One company at Fairyhouse, as Meade explained.

He said: “From the first day he arrived in the yard we’ve just loved him.

“Michael and Eddie (O’Leary) thought he should stay over hurdles and I was happy to agree. He’s more than justified the decision now.

“They didn’t go much of a gallop there, but Sean said he was cantering at all stages.

“The Hatton’s Grace looks the obvious race for him and we’ll see how it’ll work.”

The Tu Va handler also reported his earlier faller on the card, Diol Ker, none the worse: “He seems OK and Sean said he was just too fresh.

“With the whole Covid thing we hadn’t got him away. Ideally we’d have brought him to Navan or somewhere for a school.”

Elysium too strong for Weld Park field

Noel Meade’s Elysium caused a minor upset in the Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh.

A field of 10 juvenile fillies faced the starter in the seven-furlong Group Three, with the Jessica Harrington-trained No Speak Alexander the 3-1 favourite after finishing second in a Listed event at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.

Elysium was rated 17lb inferior to the market leader, having been placed in a couple of conditions races since opening her account at Navan in June.

However, ridden by Billy Lee, the 12-1 shot raised her game significantly to claim victory by a length and a half from Aunty Bridy – providing her multiple champion jumps trainer with a rare Pattern success on the Flat.

Thinking Of You beat No Speak Alexander to third place by a nose.

Meade said: “Some people might be surprised by that, but I’m not. She’s been showing me that all the time at home – and I thought we’d nothing to lose by running here, because if she got into the shake-up she’d be worth a few quid.

“Billy said he got a bump coming out of the gate, and it lit her up a bit. He was able to stick her in and get her relaxed again – and he couldn’t believe how she picked up.

“I own a piece of her myself, along with two friends. We bought four two-year-olds with the idea of selling them, so I would be surprised if the money comes that we don’t sell.

“It’s a while since we had a Group race winner on the Flat, but we’ve not had too many runners.”