Tag Archive for: The Big Doyen

Fahey eyeing Festival handicaps with The Big Doyen

Peter Fahey is targeting the Cheltenham Festival with The Big Doyen following an encouraging performance at the track during the November Meeting.

The six-year-old has banked plenty of experience over hurdles and has been an improver since stepping up in trip in his most recent starts, winning at Galway in the summer before placing at both Limerick in October and when outstayed by two useful prospects in a Grade Two at Prestbury Park last time out.

His handler has taken plenty of positives from that raiding mission and is now eyeing a return to Gloucestershire in the spring for a tilt at one of the Festival handicaps, with a drop back in trip for the County Hurdle a plausible option.

The Big Doyen (centre) finishing third at Cheltenham in November
The Big Doyen (centre) finishing third at Cheltenham in November (David Davies/PA)

“He ran a very good race (at Cheltenham) and what I really liked was how well he settled,” said Fahey.

“He settled really well and it looked like he was just outstayed in the race.

“He took the travelling over there really well and hopefully we can aim him back at one of the handicaps there during the Festival.”

The trainer went on: “Even the County Hurdle (would be an option) because even though he was very keen in all his races (previously) over two miles, the way he jumped and travelled the last day, at two miles I think he was going best of all.

“He definitely had more pace than his rivals that day and just didn’t get home.

“I think definitely over there when it is a true run race, I think two miles might be as far as he wants.

“He will have plenty of options and he will definitely have an entry in the Martin Pipe as well, and we will see what happens.”

In the immediate future, Fahey is considering a tilt at the Grade One Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 27 and although he could face a stern test, it is a race that could allow The Big Doyen to add to his prize-money haul.

“At the moment, we have done an entry and we’re just looking at how things are between now and then,” continued Fahey.

“There is a good chance he will run there and he has a good bit of experience and it isn’t usually the biggest of fields. So, if he could get himself placed, he could pick up a good lump of prize-money and that would be great.

“But I do think the future for him would be in those good handicaps.”

The Big Doyen looking to take down Captain Teague

The Big Doyen attempts to continue his fine form from the summer when he heads to Cheltenham in search of ideal conditions in the Trustatrader Novices’ Hurdle.

Peter Fahey’s six-year-old brings plenty of experience to the table and having bumped into plenty of useful operators when failing to shed his maiden status last term, has thrived over timber of late, winning two of his last three and finishing second in Listed company in his most recent outing.

His trainer is no stranger to success in this race, having sent out the 20-time winner Peregrine Run to score in 2016, and feels his charge is an improved model in his second season hurdling.

The Big Doyen in action during his bumper days
The Big Doyen in action during his bumper days (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“It is a very competitive race and we are bringing him over looking for some bit nicer ground,” said Fahey.

“His experience is a big plus, he was tipping away in good maiden hurdles last year and he has come to the fore this year on nicer ground, stepping up in trip.

“He’s in good nick and he’s definitely improved a bit since we’ve stepped him up in trip. I hope he puts up a good run for the lads.”

There is further Irish representation in the race thanks to John McConnell’s hat-trick-seeking Kinbara, but the undoubted class among the opposition is Paul Nicholls’ Captain Teague, who bids to give the Ditcheat handler back-to-back victories in the Grade Two event.

The champion trainer saddled subsequent Grade One scorer Hermes Allen to strike in this contest 12 months ago and looks to have another candidate right out of the top drawer judged on Captain Teague’s Champion Bumper third and emphatic hurdles bow in the Persian War.

“He’s a class act and this race has been the plan since he made a pleasing winning debut over hurdles last month in the Grade Two Persian War at Chepstow where he jumped well, cruised to the front before the second-last and readily drew clear of some useful types,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“Captain Teague is a gorgeous, big horse and that was his first gallop on grass this season so he will have learned plenty because he was still a bit green.

“He had a nice school out on the grass earlier this week and goes to Cheltenham with a big chance.”

Joe Tizzard won the Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase with Amarillo Sky last year and will attempt to repeat the dose with Triple Trade.

The seven-year-old kept on stoutly to pick up a silver medal over course and distance at the October Meeting and is just 1lb higher bidding to go one better.

“He ran a blinder last time. It was his first run of the season, he was a bit rusty for the first mile and then stayed on really well,” said Tizzard.

“In time we might step up in trip, but on this ground we’ll ride him a bit more positively and off the back of that run he has to have a lovely chance in this.

“Perhaps on spring ground we’ll step him up, but on this ground I think he’s got enough pace – I’m not worried about sticking at two (miles) for the minute, especially round Cheltenham.”

Chief among Triple Trade’s rivals could be Do You Know who drops back to the minimum distance on his second start for Lucinda Russell, while Dan Skelton’s Calico and Olly Murphy’s No Risk At All are others of note in a competitive two-mile handicap.

Calico is in action at Cheltenham on Friday
Calico is in action at Cheltenham on Friday (Nigel French/PA)

Gavin Cromwell claimed the opening Lycetts Insurance Brokers Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in 2022 with Sweet Will and will try for a repeat with Fathom Two, while Irish handlers also have a strong hand in the concluding Valda Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle where the Fahey-trained Showman could bring the curtain down on the opening day of the November Meeting in style.

“Showman’s last couple of runs have been pretty good,” said Fahey.

“He lost nothing in defeat the last day at Cork and I think he will run a really nice race. Hopefully he puts up a good performance for Chris (Blair, owner).”