Tag Archive for: The Nice Guy

The Nice Guy follows up Cheltenham triumph

The Nice Guy capped an unbeaten first season when following up his Cheltenham win in the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

Trained by Willie Mullins, The Nice Guy was sent off an unconsidered 18-1 chance in the Albert Bartlett and ridden by Sean O’Keeffe, but he saw off stable companion Minella Cocooner and the pair fought out the finish again.

Once again Minella Cocooner attempted to make all – but Paul Townend always had him in his sights and hit the front before the final flight.

While Minella Cocooner bravely fought back to within three-quarters of a length, the 15-8 favourite was always holding him and was cut to 5-1 from 8-1 by Betfair for next season’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Mullins said: “He totally surprises us and wouldn’t win any sort of race at home on our gallop, but he loves it on grass on the track. He keeps surprising us.

“There is not a lot of condition on him, he’s a light-framed horse and doesn’t take much training. He’s a unique specimen in his own way. He’s the exact opposite of a morning glory. He does it in the afternoon, which is tremendous.

“I was a little surprised he went on at the second-last, but Paul said he didn’t want to get caught on the inside at the last bend. I think he was idling in front.

“The first two will go chasing next season.”

Jessica Harrington’s Crosshill (15-2) beat Gavin Cromwell’s Vanillier in his maiden hurdle but until the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle had failed to win again.

Back hurdling after finding fences difficult, he just held on in a thrilling finish from Classic Getaway who was demoted to third behind Nicky Henderson’s Fils D’oudairies having been adjudged to have caused interference on the run-in.

Crosshill (red hat) gets up close home for Robbie Power
Crosshill (red hat) gets up close home for Robbie Power (Brian Lawless/PA)

Harrington said: “He lost his confidence over fences and was jumping off to one side so it’s fantastic to get that back.

“It wasn’t straightforward today but he’s very tough and he stays very well.

“Robbie (Power) gave him a great ride and there is no better rider around here.”

Peter Fahey worked his magic again in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final with unconsidered 40-1 chance Ambitious Fellow following up Suprise Package’s win of 12 months ago.

Ambitious Fellow came through late to win
Ambitious Fellow came through late to win (Brian Lawless/PA)

Like last year Fahey fielded a better-fancied runner in Freedom To Dream but he lost all chance when getting involved in a barging match with I A Connect at the second-last, causing that rival to unseat Adrian Heskin.

“He was bought to be sold but we brought him across to Doncaster and couldn’t get anyone to buy him. Oran Crean, Gerry O’Neill and my wife Ber own him,” said Fahey.

“He goes on nicer ground and we’ll tip away over the summer. I’ve been very lucky in this series.”

Henry de Bromhead’s Life In The Park (9-2) took the opening Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle in the hands of Mikey O’Connor.

Mullins again as The Nice Guy proves best in Albert Bartlett

The Nice Guy made it two from two over hurdles and gave Willie Mullins the top trainer title at Cheltenham 2022 as he saddled a one-two in an eventful Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

With 2-1 favourite Hillcrest never travelling and pulled up after the fourth-last in the Grade One three-mile event, the race seemed at the mercy of second-favourite Ginto with Jack Kennedy’s mount tanking approaching the final bend.

Yet as he attempted to ease between rivals, he appeared to take a false step and suffered what sadly proved to be a fatal injury.

That left the free-going Minella Cocooner to fight it out with stablemate The Nice Guy, who had been produced with a timely run approaching the second-last.

Carrying the colours made famous by Monsignor, the Malcolm Denmark-owned seven-year-old outstayed his rival up the hill to score by five lengths, denying Paul Townend a treble. Minella Cocooner had four and a quarter lengths to spare over Bardenstown Lad.

Mullins said: “Minella Cocooner must have a huge engine to make those mistakes and still be there at the finish.

“What a ride from Sean, he rode Galopin Des Champs last year here for me, he’s an up-and-coming rider, he’s very cool.

“I think he’s someone who is going to come through the ranks, it’s always nice to have those, but Paul will be around for a while yet.

“Things can’t have gone to plan for the winner as the plan was to be in the first six or eight, but he obviously wasn’t quick enough to do that and he just dropped him in and crept his way around. That’s the good thing about fellows like that, they have the ability to change tactics. I like that sort of confidence.

“The horse shows nothing at home. I almost told Malcolm to sell him, but he said to give him a run and he won. He was going to go chasing but it was too late in the season so we ran him again and he won his second bumper, we then gave him a run in his hurdle and here we are today, he keeps improving all the time.”

Sean O’Keeffe celebrates
Sean O’Keeffe celebrates (Steven Paston/PA)

Of Hillcrest, trainer Henry Daly said: “Racing doesn’t change in being full of ups and downs and we have hit one of the downs.

“We’ve come to Cheltenham as favourite for the Albert Bartlett and run no sort of race at all.

“At this stage there are no excuses, he just ran no sort of race.”

His rider Richard Patrick said: “I have never had to make him do anything in the past, but I was having to make him do everything today.

“The ground was very tacky, he was never travelling or going through it. He wouldn’t let himself down. It wasn’t happening for him, but there will be another day.

“I pulled him up and he’s all OK. I feel sorry for connections of Gordon Elliott’s horse (Ginto).”