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Kahala ready to test Cheltenham credentials

Peter Fahey hopes Royal Kahala can book her ticket to Cheltenham in the rearranged Race Displays Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Saved over from last weekend, Monday’s Grade Three event must survive another wintry outlook – with the ground currently described as heavy.

But if going ahead, it is sure to be an informative affair – with Willie Mullins’ unbeaten Gauloise also set to run.

Currently, the same pair head the betting for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in March.

Fahey said of Royal Kahala: “She’s in good form – it looks a competitive race, the same kind of field it was supposed to be (initially).

“It will kind of let us know where we stand.

“We took on a good bunch of fillies the last day and were lucky enough to win it.”

Fahey can be confident testing conditions will suit his six-year-old, who has completed a hat-trick since early November on soft and heavy ground.

“If she wins or runs a very good race we’re thinking about going to Cheltenham with her for the mares’ novice,” he added.

“Her last three runs, her strongest furlong has been the last one on heavy ground. She seems to cope with it very well and shows a good turn of foot at the end of her race – which is another big plus.

“Her action at home, you wouldn’t say she needs it soft. (But) you wouldn’t run her on very quick ground, because she’s been so effective with it on the soft side.”

Speaking about Gauloise earlier this week, Mullins said: “I’ll probably let her go there (Fairyhouse).

“She’s done everything right so far, but it looks like she’s got Peter Fahey’s mare to beat.

“She’s looked very good – she’ll be hard to beat. It’s a hell of a race.”

Royal Kahala impresses at Fairyhouse

Royal Kahala displayed a potent turn of foot as she notched a Fairyhouse hat-trick with victory in the Wishing Everyone A Healthy 2021 Mares Hurdle.

A quality field went to post including Delvino, Hook Up and Razzle Dazzle Love, but none of them had an answer to the impressive winner.

Already successful in a bumper and a maiden hurdle at the track, Kevin Sexton took the brave route down the inner throughout on Peter Fahey’s charge.

Delvino was the first of the market leaders beaten with her jumping letting her down on numerous occasions, while Hook Up looked menacing going to the second-last.

Razzle Dazzle Love had led throughout, but had shown a tendency to jump left so Sexton took a gamble to go up her inside and it narrowly paid off, although she still had ground to make on on Hook Up running to the last.

Hook Up met it on the wrong stride, losing momentum, but the way the winner picked up suggested it made little difference, as the 3-1 chance shot five lengths clear.

Paddy Power cut Royal Kahala to 8-1 from 20s for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

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“To be honest I was fairly confident in her coming into the race,” said Fahey.

“I know it was a hot race, but the way she won the last two she found loads in the closing stages.

“She did it again today and she’s a very nice filly, we are lucky to have her.

Royal Kahala quickened up impressively after the last
Royal Kahala quickened up impressively after the last (PA Wire)

“When I was looking at this race I was thinking it would be an easy target, but when the entries came out it was stiff enough competition.

“I’d say the plan will be to come back here for the Solerina Hurdle at the end of the month. She did it well today and fingers crossed everything goes all right and she comes back here.

“I liked how much she picked up from the back of the last. She stays well and Kevin said she was strong at the line. A fast-run race will suit her even better.”

Fairyhouse Races – January 3rd
Flanking Maneuver clears the last on his way to victory (PA Wire)

Flanking Maneuver backed up a promising effort on his hurdling debut to win the Happy New Year From All At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle in the style of a good horse.

A wide-margin bumper scorer, he had chased home a nice type in Percy Warner last time out and Sean Flanagan always looked confident on this occasion.

The 5-4 favourite took a lead into the straight and did not come off the bridle in beating Folcano by six lengths to give Noel Meade, who celebrated a 70th birthday success 24 hours earlier, another winner.

“He’s done it really well and the step up in trip was obviously a big help to him,” said Flanagan.

“His bumper form was quite classy and he always showed a good bit at home. I’m delighted that he’s brought it forward today.

“I’d say the horse that beat us the first day was quite smart, too. I think the step up in trip today really benefited him.”

Dot Love is due to hand over the licence to her assistant Ciaran Murphy in the coming days – and after a winner on Saturday she landed the Happy Retirement Dot Love Ladies Handicap Hurdle with Flindt.

Flindt and Sarah Kavanagh jump the last in front
Flindt and Sarah Kavanagh jump the last in front (PA Wire)

“I thought yesterday was the highlight, but they came through for me. I never ever thought it would happen again today, it’s a fairytale,” said Love.

“It’s special for it to happen here and Peter Roe (general manager) was very good to name the race after me, that was moving.

“Having had the Irish National winner here as well it’s a lovely way to finish.”

There was plenty of chatter about Gordon Elliott’s 470,000 euro purchase Ginto ahead of the closing bumper, but he had no answer to Willie Mullins’ Whatdeawant (9-4) who beat the favourite by two and a half lengths to earn a 33-1 quote for Cheltenham.

Mullins said: “I’d imagine he’ll go for a winners or we could go straight to Cheltenham with him. Patrick (Mullins) was very happy with his performance.”