Tag Archive for: Sire Du Berlais

Berlais backed to give another good account in Liverpool Hurdle

Sire Du Berlais bids to join the staying hurdling greats when he goes in search of a JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle hat-trick at Aintree.

Gordon Elliott’s evergreen 12-year-old was a shock 16-1 winner when denying Flooring Porter in 2022 and then drew clear of Marie’s Rock when defending his title in style 12 months ago, supplementing the Stayers’ Hurdle success he enjoyed at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.

The JP McManus-owned veteran could only finish fifth at Prestbury Park this time around, but is reported to have bounced out of that race in great order ahead of his quest for more glory in the north west.

“He ran quite well at Cheltenham and has come out of the race really well,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus.

“Gordon is really happy with him and hopefully he will run a big race again on Saturday.

“He was very good when he won here last year, he came from a long way back and he’s sure to run a good race.

“He’s been a great horse – a horse of a lifetime really – and he’s in good form and will give a good account.”

Flooring Porter is searching his first win at Aintree
Flooring Porter is searching for his first win at Aintree (Mike Egerton/PA)

Flooring Porter has twice hit the frame in Liverpool and having also rattled the crossbar behind Teahupoo at the Cheltenham Festival, trainer Gavin Cromwell is hoping his long-time stable star can finally get his moment in the Merseyside spotlight.

“He’s come out of Cheltenham well and he ran a cracker in Cheltenham – hopefully he can go one better here,” said the County Meath handler.

“He enjoys Liverpool and seems in good nick, so hopefully he can have a good chance.”

John ‘Shark’ Hanlon rerouted King George hero Hewick from the Bowl on Thursday to this Grade One equivalent over the smaller obstacles, while also switching to timber is Willie Mullins’ Monkfish, who brought the house down when winning the Galmoy Hurdle in January but was pulled up over fences in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Buddy One has been a standout performer for Paul Gilligan
Buddy One has been a standout performer for Paul Gilligan (Nigel French/PA)

The Irish challenge is bolstered Henry de Bromhead’s Boyne Hurdle winner Hiddenvalley Lake, the sole representative of owners Robcour, while Paul Gilligan’s Buddy One ran with real credit when fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle, with connections eyeing going one better than when second at this meeting in handicap company 12 months ago.

“From his Stayers’ run it puts him there with a chance,” said Gilligan.

“He’s in great form, but I would like the ground to dry out a bit. He’s in good order, we’re here and looking forward to it and please God he will run well.

“He ran so well here last year we said we would come back here after Cheltenham. Hopefully he comes out on top this time. If he does then super, if not but he puts in a good performance, we will be happy as well.”

British hopes could rest on a return to form for the Fergal O’Brien-trained Long Walk Hurdle victor Crambo.

The seven-year-old announced himself as the young gun of the staying hurdles division when downing Paisley Park at Ascot but rather disappointed at the Cheltenham Festival when well held in ninth.

“He was a bit disappointing at Cheltenham, but I thought maybe the track didn’t quite suit him,” said Noel Fehily, racing manager to Crambo’s co-owner Chris Giles.

“He definitely underperformed and we’re hoping he can bounce back on Saturday. He’s in great form and we’re just hoping for a nice run.

“He’s been a super little horse and hopefully he can continue to be on Saturday.”

The John and Yvonne Stone-owned Botox Has was last seen winning Haydock’s Rendlesham Hurdle and following up in this could set the team of Caoilin Quinn and trainer Gary Moore up perfectly for their Grand National tilt with Nassalam less than an hour later.

Olly Murphy’s Strong Leader was third beaten little over a length in his first try at three miles in the Cleeve Hurdle, while Jeremy Scott’s Dashel Drasher is a standing dish in these contests and his team are keen to take advantage of the unseasonably testing conditions.

“It’s a bit of a bonus run with him really as usually we get to Aintree and the ground isn’t suitable for him, but for once it looks like the ground will be okay this year,” said Scott.

“He’s in good form, but as I say it’s more of a bonus run with him really rather than a grand plan.”

Another seasoned campaigner, Nicky Henderson’s Champ, along with Dan Skelton’s Proschema complete the field of 12.

Sire Du Berlais back in Boyne action

Sire Du Berlais returns to action in the William Hill Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday with connections expecting him to improve for the run.

Now 12, the Gordon Elliott-trained veteran has been a brilliant servant to connections, winning and finishing second in the Stayers’ Hurdles as well as winning the Pertemps Final twice.

Last spring he arguably peaked, following up his Stayers’ Hurdle success in the Aintree Hurdle and he came within three-quarters of a lengths of winning at Punchestown as well.

Reappearing over a trip of two miles and five furlongs, short of his best, he is unlikely to be seen to best effect but a return to Cheltenham should be on the cards if all goes well.

“Gordon’s been looking at this race for him for a while now and then head on to Cheltenham,” said Frank Berry, owner JP McManus’ racing manager.

“He’s had a few little hiccups earlier in the season, but he’s back now in good form and we’re hoping to get a nice run into him on Sunday.

“I wouldn’t have thought we’d see him at his best this week, the trip’s a bit short, he doesn’t love heavy ground and he always improves for a run. That’s why he’s always gone well in the spring.”

Blazing Khal is another having his first run of the season
Blazing Khal is another having his first run of the season (Brian Lawless/PA)

Elliott also runs Delta Work and Galvin, who are both building towards the cross-country at Cheltenham and Beacon Edge, winner of the race in 2021 for Noel Meade.

Also reappearing is the Charles Byrnes-trained Blazing Khal, winner of this race 12 months ago but not sighted since finishing sixth behind Sire Du Berlais at Cheltenham.

The other Grade Two on the card sees Elliott’s American Mike and Favori De Champdou take on Willie Mullins’ pair of Minella Cocooner and Nick Rockett in the William Hill Ten Up Novice Chase.

Brighterdaysahead will be hoping to book her Cheltenham ticket for Elliott in the Listed Apple’s Jade Mares Novice Hurdle.

Teahupoo on course to defend Hatton’s Grace title

Defending champion Teahupoo will lead a strong Gordon Elliott squad into battle for the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle next month.

The six-year-old became the first horse to lower the colours of Honeysuckle when landing the Fairyhouse Grade One 12 months ago and went on to run a mighty race in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

He had to settle for third on that occasion behind stablemate Sire Du Berlais, but Elliott predicts further improvement this term which could make him one of the leading players in the staying hurdling division.

Jockey Jack Kennedy (centre) and trainer Gordon Elliott (left) celebrate with Teahupoo after winning the Hatton's Grace
Jockey Jack Kennedy (centre) and trainer Gordon Elliott (left) celebrate with Teahupoo after winning the Hatton’s Grace (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said: “He’s in great form, he’s doing really well. He will be in the Hatton’s Grace and Leopardstown (at Christmas) as well.

“If he improved five or six pounds from last year, which with age you would like to think he would have, he would have to be in the mix with all those stayers.

“Even last year he was in the mix and was unlucky in the Stayers’ Hurdle, he ran a great race.”

Elliott holds seven entries for the December 3 event and poised to make his return is stable stalwart and reigning Stayers’ Hurdle champion Sire Du Berlais.

The evergreen 11-year-old got his hands on his third Cheltenham Festival victory when edging out Dashel Drasher for a shock 33-1 success in March and proved that was no fluke when repeating the dose with further Grade One glory at Aintree the following month.

“He’s the horse of a lifetime,” said Elliott. “He’s so unimpressive at home, even to look at, he doesn’t do a stroke.

“He’s not getting any younger, but he’s a great horse and we’re lucky to have him.

“It’s hard to get him fit, it takes a couple of runs to get him fit, he’s so laid back.”

Irish Point winning at Aintree earlier in the year
Irish Point winning at Aintree earlier in the year (Tim Goode/PA)

Also in line for an appearance in the two-and-a-half-mile contest is Irish Point, who was a Grade One scorer at the distance at Aintree in the spring.

He made a winning return in the Bottlegreen Hurdle at Down Royal recently and Elliott believes he has the potential to campaign over a variety of distances.

“He’s probably a hard horse to place,” continued Elliott. “He’s in the Hatton’s Grace and I wouldn’t be shocked if I went there with him.

“He could (go over three miles), but I just don’t know if I want to go three miles with him at the moment.

“He’s a good horse, but might just be stuck between a rock and a hard place. He might not have the pace for the really good two-mile races and I think he will stay three miles, but it’s whether I want to be doing it at this stage of his career or not, he’s only a young horse.”

Meanwhile, the Cullentra House handler is already looking ahead to March with Gigginstown’s Brighterdaysahead, who made it two from two over timber when claiming a Grade Three at Down Royal and will be pointed at the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

“If you asked me now, I would say it will be one more run then Cheltenham,” said Elliott.

“She’s had two runs now. She’s got a big engine and she’s looked good.

“She’s not keen, she’s just green. If you look at her in Down Royal, it was like her first run – Thurles was no race. But I was happy with her and how she hit the line.”

Croke Park winning the Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan
Croke Park winning the Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan (Brian Lawless/PA)

He also has high hopes for the owners’ Croke Park who having won the Grade Three Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan on Sunday, could be given the chance to enhance his fine recent record in the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle early in the new year.

Elliott added: “He was good, he’s a big horse. He had a few niggly problems last year and I would imagine I would go to Naas now for the Lawlor’s.

“He’s a three-mile chaser (in the making) and when he got there he wasn’t doing anything, he was a bit babyish.”

Sire Du Berlais and Teahupoo give Elliott strong Stayers hand

Sire Du Berlais will go in search of a unique hat-trick at Punchestown when he lines up in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle on Thursday.

Gordon Elliott’s stable stalwart has already rolled back the years to strike in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and then defend his Liverpool Hurdle crown. He will now bid for a third Grade One in the space of six weeks when he strides out at the Kildare track.

To do so he will have to go three places better than last year’s fourth, but the 11-year-old appears to be at the peak of his powers despite his advancing years and his trainer states he has bounced out of his trip to Aintree in rude health.

“Sire Du Berlais is a marvellous horse,” said the Cullentra House handler. “For him to be doing what he’s doing at the age of 11 is incredible. He’s an unbelievable campaigner. He came out of Aintree in good shape.”

Elliott is also represented by Teahupoo, who was third behind his stablemate at Prestbury Park and has enjoyed a fine campaign, winning both the Hatton’s Grace and Galmoy Hurdle.

“Teahupoo is coming here off Cheltenham where he ran really well,” he added.

“He’s established himself now, I think, as one of the best stayers around and you’d like to think, all things being equal, he’d be lining up with a leading chance.”

Teahupoo has enjoyed a fine season winning twice and placing at the Cheltenham Festival
Teahupoo has enjoyed a fine season winning twice and placing at the Cheltenham Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

Willie Mullins fires four darts at a race he has won five times in the last 10 years.

The master of Closutton has saddled Klassical Dream to win this the past two years and has identified the defending champion as his best chance of enhancing his fine race record.

“Klassical Dream is the one that can go back to Punchestown and win it,” said Mullins.

“We didn’t know whether we were going to make it or not to Cheltenham, but we thought his work was good enough. We took our chance. I think you’ll see the real Klassical Dream in Punchestown.”

Mullins is also represented by Asterion Forlonge and two-time Cheltenham Festival hero Monkfish – who fought out the finish of the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier this month – with Whatdeawant completing the quartet.

“It’s great to see Asterion Forlonge and Monkfish coming back,” continued Mullins.

“Those horses had long breaks and have little turnaround from Fairyhouse to Punchestown and that’s a big negative for me. If they ran a good race, I’d be very happy. Whatdeawant is probably just not good enough.”

Last year’s runner-up Ashdale Bob will attempt to go one better for Keith Donoghue and Jessica Harrington, with Oliver McKiernan’s Meet And Great and Henry de Bromhead’s Thurles scorer Summerville Boy completing the field.

On-fire Sire bidding for festival hat-trick at Punchestown

Sire Du Berlais will aim to complete a famous treble when he runs in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday.

Gordon Elliott’s evergreen 11-year-old has already won at Cheltenham and Aintree this season and despite his age appears to be in the form of his life.

Elliott has a strong second-string to his bow in the nine-runner field with Teahupoo, who was third to his stablemate at Prestbury Park last month.

Willie Mullins’ team of four is headed by two-time winner and defending champion Klassical Dream, with Asterion Forlonge, Whatdeawant and Monkfish also representing the Closutton handler.

The latter returned from over 700 days off the track with a fine effort when narrowly beaten by Asterion Forlonge at Fairyhouse earlier this month.

Ashdale Bob, Meet And Greet and Summerville Boy complete the field.

The other Grade One on the card is the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase where only four go to post, three trained by Mullins.

Arkle winner El Fabiolo is the champion trainer’s first string after he inflicted a first defeat on Jonbon over fences at Cheltenham.

Saint Roi, who finished third in the Arkle and second at Aintree to Banbridge, as well as Dysart Dynamo, who led the Arkle field until falling at the second last, also represent Mullins.

El Fabiolo was very impressive in the Arkle
El Fabiolo was very impressive in the Arkle (David Davies/PA)

The Mouse Morris-trained Indiana Jones completes the quartet.

There is some UK interest elsewhere on the card. Lucinda Russell sends Douglas Talking over for the Pigsback.com Handicap Chase after his near-miss at Aintree.

While in the  Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle Nicky Henderson runs Walking On Air, Anthony Honeyball is represented by Kilbeg King and Christian Williams runs Lord Snootie. Honeyball also runs Lilith in the  Close Brothers Irish EBF Mares Handicap Chase.

Liverpool repeat for super Sire Du Berlais

Sire Du Berlais toughed it out to defend his title in the JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle.

The admirable JP McManus-owned gelding completed the Cheltenham-Aintree double for Gordon Elliott and Mark Walsh after taking the equivalent contest at the Festival in March.

He was sent off at 8-1 despite his prior victory and looked like he was not in the mood at all in the first half of the race.

After cantering along at the rear of the field, he edged into the event gradually and came into his own when the race became a stamina test in the final furlong – defeating the strong-travelling Marie’s Rock by three and a quarter lengths, with Flooring Porter (3-1 favourite) another six and a half lengths back in third.

Elliott said: “Unbelievable. To come back at this age and do it again, we’re absolutely delighted.

“Mark gave him a brilliant ride because he was flat to the boards the whole way and he just kept holing him and holding him and he kept picking up – it was brilliant.

“We didn’t do much with him (since Cheltenham). The girls took him to the beach a couple of times since the last day. We actually haven’t done any galloping really. We’ve just kept him happy.

“I’d say we will put him away now. He won’t go to Punchestown, anyway, I don’t think.

Mark Walsh and Sire Du Berlais
Mark Walsh and Sire Du Berlais (PA)

“He deserves a holiday now. He has been the horse of a lifetime and we’re lucky to have him.

“To be honest, I thought we were in a bit of trouble today, but he just kept picking up.”

A proud McManus said: “He is a wonderful horse. We are lucky to own him. I was thinking the day wasn’t going to be a going day, but in fairness to Mark, that was an exceptional ride – an exceptional ride.

“The horse doesn’t know his age.”

Of Marie’s Rock, Nicky Henderson said: “As Nico (de Boinville) said she tried her heart out, but the winner was out the back with Champ, so it was a remarkable performance by him.”

Gavin Cromwell added of Flooring Porter: “It was probably his best run of the season. We haven’t completely decided whether he will go to Punchestown.”

Next stop Aintree for Stayers’ Hurdle hero Sire Du Berlais

Stayers’ Hurdle hero Sire Du Berlais will roll on to Aintree to defend his Jrl Group Liverpool Hurdle title next month.

The 11-year-old was a surprise 16-1 winner last year and created another shock when triumphing at Cheltenham as a 33-1 shot earlier this month.

He had shown little in four previous starts, but Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, says connections are keen to head back to Merseyside now.

Gordon Elliott (left) with Sire Du Berlais
Gordon Elliott (left) with Sire Du Berlais (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It was a fantastic result,” Berry said. “He was in great form and all credit to Gordon Elliott and his team.

“He has come out of the race good and the plan is now to go to Aintree.”

Zenta, a close-up third to Lossiemouth in the Triumph Hurdle, also looks set to run at Aintree.

Zenta (left) was beaten by Lossiemouth
Zenta (left) was beaten by Lossiemouth (Tim Goode/PA)

The Willie Mullins-trained four-year-old, who took a Grade Three at Fairyhouse in February, was only just run out of second place by Gala Marceau.

Berry added: “While it is a bit up in the air at the moment, if all was well with her, I’d say she will go to Aintree.”

However, one runner not due to make the trip is Corbetts Cross, who ran out when well in contention at the final flight in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

The Emmet Mullins-trained six-year-old was snapped up by McManus ahead of his Festival run but while things did not go according to plan at Cheltenham, connections will not bid for compensation this term.

Berry, said: “There was a bit of a gap in the railing and he just copped it. He came back OK, but he is finished for the season.

“We’ll see how he is over the summer before making any plans for him.”

Scott left deflated after Dashel Drasher demoted from second in Stayers’ Hurdle

Jeremy Scott felt the decision of the Cheltenham stewards to demote Dashel Drasher to third from second in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle had “pricked his bubble a bit”.

Sent off at 40-1, only the French challenger Henri Le Farceur went off a bigger price but Dashel Drasher massively outran market expectations and looked to have everything beaten when jumping the last flight in front.

He drifted slightly to his left on jumping it, and also caused marginal interference after the hurdle to Gordon Elliott’s Teahupoo, the 9-4 favourite.

Only a nose separated them at the line, with Sire Du Berlais a three-quarters of a length winner, but the stewards felt there was enough interference to reverse the order of the second and third.

“To me it’s very harsh. I’ve just spoken to the stewards and I’ve watched it through,” said Scott.

“The trouble is they set the precedent in the four-year-old hurdle at Aintree last year when (Knight Salute and Pied Piper dead-heated but Pied Piper was demoted). To me I felt if it had happened at any meeting midweek it wouldn’t have been picked up on.

“We drifted left going into the hurdle and that is what they are concerned about and they felt the momentum he lost made the difference between the nose he missed out on second.

“For me the eventual second wasn’t quick enough to go for the gap he wanted, then he was pulled out to go around and have another go. I think we’ve been harshly done to, but rules are rules.

“I’ll speak to the owners about an appeal, but it’s a long process and I don’t think we’ll derive any pleasure about doing it – it did prick our bubble a bit and the £30,000 would have been nice.”

Sire Du Berlais is a Festival hero once again

Sire Du Berlais ground down Dashel Drasher late on in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle as the big-race outsiders fought out a thrilling finish to the Cheltenham Festival’s day three feature.

At one stage it looked as if Flooring Porter was about to join the Festival immortals and secure his third straight victory in the race, but his tank emptied quicker than in the previous two years and he was passed heading to the last by Dashel Drasher who set sail for home in the hands of Rex Dingle.

A length to the good jumping the final flight, Jeremy Scott’s admirable 10-year-old stuck his head down as the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Sire Du Berlais and Teahupoo were breathing down his neck.

But while the 5-2 favourite could not get by in the hands of Davy Russell, Dashel Drasher had no answer to the late thrust of the JP McManus-owned 33-1 shot who edged his way to a three-quarters of a length verdict.

Dashel Drasher was a brave second at 40-1 and Teahupoo a further neck back in third – but there was a change to the placings in the stewards’ room as it was deemed Dashel Drasher had caused interference at the last that was sufficient to deny Teahupoo second spot.

A runner-up behind Flooring Porter in this in 2021 and also a dual winner of the Pertemps in both 2019 and 2020, the 11-year-old Sire Du Berlais was somewhat the forgotten horse of the race and handed Cullentra House handler Elliott his first victory in this premier staying hurdling contest.

Elliott said: “After a hurdle or two I knew he was in a good rhythm. Of course it’s a surprise, but Sire Du Berlais can do that – he’s either first or last.

“He stayed on well up the hill in fairness to him and Mark (Walsh) gave him a brilliant ride.

Connections with Sire Du Berlais
Connections with Sire Du Berlais (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s great to win the race. We were beaten a short head in a Grade One yesterday (with Gerri Colombe), but it’s a great game and it’s great to be here.

“We couldn’t get him qualified for the Pertemps Final. It just didn’t work out for us with ground one day and he probably didn’t look that well handicapped.

“He doesn’t do anything too exciting as he minds himself, but that’s why he’s still going at his age.

“I thought Teahupoo would win. He travelled into it and ran well.”

Walsh has had a bad run of luck with injuries but made it back in time for Cheltenham.

“It was a bit of a rush to get back, but thankfully I got back with the help of all the surgeons and doctors,” he said. “I fractured vertebrae in my neck at the Dublin Racing Festival, but it healed quick so I’m back.

“He is brilliant and he loves this place. He never knows when he is beaten. A good gallop suited and he travelled great for him, as usually he can be on and off the bridle but he travelled great and jumped great.

“Gordon had him spot on today so all credit to him. He loves it around here and he is a joy to ride so it is brilliant to win on him.

“They always say horses for courses and he loves it here and it is great to get a big one on him today. I’m delighted he was able to be here and take part in this and win it. It is great to get another big one at the Festival.”

McManus said: “I thought he ran well in Navan the last day as he was giving a lot of weight away and was running on well at the end. I thought he deserved to take his chance.

JP McManus and Gordon Elliott
JP McManus and Gordon Elliott (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I’ve not had too many 33-1 winners here. Creon won at a big price, as did Kadoun (both 50-1 in the Pertemps Final). This fellow I’m afraid went unbacked! We’ll enjoy it just the same.

“Gordon has done some job on the horse. We were kind of training him for the Pertemps, but he didn’t get qualified and as a result he was in the Stayers’.

“I must say I thought he had a little chance and after the last I felt he would run up the hill well and give it his lot.”

Scott, speaking before Dashel Drasher was placed third, said: “We came here but we weren’t necessarily thinking we belonged here as we hadn’t had the easiest lead into the race, but he just started bouncing again so we came.

“I’m delighted. Obviously I would have loved to have finished in the other spot, but I’m very proud of him.

“It’s the first time my wife has come to watch him and she bred him and quite frankly does most of the training so it was lovely to have her here.”

Russell said of Teahupoo: “He jumped great, he missed the second-last but I didn’t need it as I wasn’t under pressure.

“I just couldn’t get upsides Dashel Drasher in the straight, he kept going left then right and if I’d got upsides him I might have been all right.

“Off the back of the last he just kept going the same pace but he’s run a lovely race, he’s only six. I’d say Gordon’s a lot happier with this result than I am!”

Gavin Cromwell said of the defending champion Flooring Porter: “He looked his old self, he went a right good gallop, Danny (Mullins) just felt he couldn’t get a breather into him but he ran a good, solid race.

“He ran a gallant race, five or six weeks ago it wasn’t looking like we’d be here but the last three weeks I was confident he’d run a solid race.”