Tag Archive for: Zanahiyr

Zanahiyr battles to first chase success

Champion Hurdle third Zanahiyr opened his account over fences at the second attempt when coming out on top in a thrilling duel with Aspire Tower in the Horse & Jockey Beginners Chase at Thurles.

It looked a competitive event on paper with Willie Mullins fielding Feu Du Bresil and Figaroc, Noel Meade sending Pinkerton and Cian Collins’ Mighty Tom lining up, but only two were ever involved.

Rachael Blackmore bounced out on Aspire Tower but Jack Kennedy was keen not to let her get too far ahead of Zanahiyr.

Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old came up just short of the very best over hurdles and had the misfortune of bumping into the highly-regarded Fact To File on his chasing debut.

He was not as fluent as he could have been on that occasion but he jumped with much more finesse here, although Aspire Tower did appear to be travelling better approaching the last.

Zanahiyr (7-4 favourite) had got within three and a half lengths of Constitution Hill over two and a half miles at Aintree, though, and his stamina came to the fore as he won by half a length.

“It was a good performance and I suppose he was really only getting going (at the finish). He is a good age now and gets further than two miles, so I’m delighted that he got his head in front,” said Kennedy.

“I was keen to be forward and wasn’t concerned about the distance, although in the race I thought Rachael was quickening away from me. He knuckled down though and dug in.

“He can step up in distance but is also OK over a strongly-run two miles so there are plenty of options.”

Zanahiyr off the mark at first time of asking

Gordon Elliott was delighted to see his high-class hurdler Zanahiyr enjoy a confidence-boosting victory on his seasonal debut at Punchestown.

It is coming up to two years since the chestnut gelding last got his head in front in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal, although he has since been placed in a string of Grade One events – last season finishing third behind the mighty Constitution Hill in both the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Aintree Hurdle.

Faced with just two rivals, the Paddy Power Hurdle represented a sizeable drop in class for the six-year-old – but with the Charles Byrnes-trained Run For Oscar reverting to the jumping game just 10 days after finishing a a fine third in the Prix du Cadran, his task was not straightforward.

There was nothing to chose between the pair for much of two-and-a-quarter-mile journey and while jockey Philip Byrnes did his best to make race-fitness count by kicking for home rounding the final bend, 10-11 favourite Zanahiyr eventually mastered him under Jack Kennedy and pulled two and a half lengths clear.

Zanahiyr’s stablemate Andy Dufresne was just a neck behind Run For Oscar in third.

Of the winner, Elliott said: “I thought we were very beatable first run back and to be honest I wasn’t going to run him only there was a very small entry. Jack said he had a couple of blows and was delighted with him – he jumped well.

“He was entitled to do it on ratings, but it’s not always that easy. We thought we might get a soft lead but it was an honest gallop and Philip put the gun to our head the whole way.

“I’ll talk to Noel and Valerie (Moran, owners) to see what they think (about plans). There is a lot of prize-money to be picked up in conditions hurdles and he has no Grade One penalty, so he can step back into Grade Twos and Threes.

“I’d say you could see him in anything from two-mile-five back to two miles. You know he’s going to wear his heart on his sleeve and try his best for you.

“The way he jumps a hurdle you would say he would jump a fence, so I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Elliott and Kennedy had earlier successfully combined with Wodhooh (11-10 favourite) in the Paddy Power 3-Y-O Hurdle.

Formerly trained on the Flat by Sir Michael Stoute, the Le Havre filly got the race in the stewards’ room on her hurdling debut at Listowel last month but there was no doubt about it this time as she stretched 24 lengths clear to double her tally.

“She’s a nice mare. We like her, she’ll be better on softer ground and the further she goes,” said Elliott.

“We knew she’d come on from the run in Listowel but I think on softer ground there is another half-stone in her. She’s a very honest filly.

“We’d like to get a bit of black type over hurdles with her now. There is a race in Newbury in the first week in December that she could go for.”

Zanahiyr likely to take on Constitution Hill in Champion Hurdle

Zanahiyr, who was disqualified from third place behind Honeysuckle in last year’s Champion Hurdle after testing positive for a banned raceday substance, is set to take on Constitution Hill in this season’s renewal.

Trainer Gordon Elliott was fined £1,000 by an independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority after a post-race urine test from Zanahiyr was found to contain 3-hydroxylidocaine, a metabolite of the local anaesthetic lidocaine, the source of which could not be established.

Elliott, speaking at the Cheltenham’s launch of the handicap weights, said he is keen to let him take his chance in the Unibet-sponsored day one feature.

He said: “We’ll probably confirm him for the Champion Hurdle and see what numbers are left in. If there are five or six runners, there is every chance he will take his chance in the Champion and we’ll ride him for a place.

“Obviously it looks a very hot race, with Constitution Hill and State Man and a few others, but our idea is we are going to go.

“We will get a look at all the weights (in other races) and see what’s what. It will probably be by the end of the week before we confirm what is going where.”

Conflated is Gold Cup-bound
Conflated is Gold Cup-bound (Niall Carson/PA)

Conflated is the County Meath-based yard’s big Gold Cup hope, having landed the Savills Chase over Christmas.

He fell in last year’s Ryanair Chase, and while Elliott has no qualms about his ability to handle the course, he feels he is different to Don Cossack, who won the blue riband for Cullentra House in 2016.

He said of the nine-year-old: “We are happy with where we are and really looking forward to it now we are two weeks out – we can’t wait.

“Conflated has had a good preparation. He was very good at Leopardstown the last day and was running a good race in the Ryanair last year.

“He is in good nick. It is a competitive race but an open race and we are looking forward to running him.”

He added: “Don Cossack was probably a classier horse and a quicker horse, where Conflated is a real galloper and the trip of the Gold Cup will really suit him.

“We got him in the wrong race last year and we are really looking forward to the Gold Cup now.”

Owner Michael O’Leary (centre) celebrates in the parade ring after winning the Glenfarclas Chase with Delta Work (left), alongside runner-up Tiger Roll
Owner Michael O’Leary (centre) celebrates in the parade ring after winning the Glenfarclas Chase with Delta Work (left), alongside runner-up Tiger Roll (Steven Paston/PA)

Elliott will have four runners in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, spearheaded by last year’s winner Delta Work, who upset stablemate and dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll 12 months ago.

Elliott said: “Delta Work is in great form. This has been the plan since we brought him over to Cheltenham the last day.

“We are really looking forward to the race, but Galvin is going to run in the race along with Mortal and Hardline, so we are going to have four in that one.

“Delta spoiled the part last year (beating Tiger Roll) but obviously Galvin is a good horse.”

The yard appears to have a strong hand in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle where the Gary Moore-trained Botox Has is top-weight on 12st.

Salvador Ziggy, The Bosses Oscar, Maxxum and Level Neverending are all set to run for Elliott, who said: “Maxxum didn’t get the best of runs the last day. The Bosses Oscar was second a few years ago, he obviously has a bad mark, but we are looking forward to running them.”

American Mike, who was runner-up to Facile Vega in last season’s Champion Bumper, could be a dark horse for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on day two, despite failing to impress on a couple of occasions subsequently.

Elliott feels he could surprise and said: “If he runs, it will be in the Ballymore.

“He has been disappointing, but I wouldn’t give him up on him just yet.”

Three Card Brag, a runaway winner of a Fairyhouse novice hurdle in January, holds several entries in handicaps, but could end up in the Albert Bartlett.

“At the moment we are kind of leaning towards the Albert Bartlett. He is a very good horse and he is going to be an exciting chaser next year.,” Elliott said.

There is no doubting the regard in which Elliott holds Mighty Potter, who is unbeaten in three starts over fences, including twice at the top level. He holds entries in both the Brown Advisory and Turners Novices’ Chase.

Mighty Potter could be a star in the making
Mighty Potter could be a star in the making (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Asked if he could be the best he has trained, Elliott replied: “It is very hard to say. He has done nothing wrong in his career so far.

“I know it is the old saying that when you are jumping hurdles you say you are looking forward to going chasing, but with Mighty Potter it really does look the case.

“He is very good horse. We will be nervous looking at him, because we are really looking forward to him running.”

Though pulled up behind Constitution Hill in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last year, Mighty Potter gained Grade One laurels at Punchestown and has been foot-perfect over fences this term.

Elliott added: “He blew out here last year. He made a mistake early and never got into a rhythm. Jack (Kennedy) very wisely eased up on him and saved him and we had a horse for Punchestown.

“He never really jumped a hurdle as well as he did fences.”

Asked for one horse whom he felt was his best chance in one of the Cheltenham handicaps, Elliott said: “Imagine in the Martin Pipe. If he runs, he will have a great chance.”

Zanahiyr faces losing third place in last season’s Champion Hurdle

Zanahiyr faces disqualification from third place in last season’s Champion Hurdle after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

An independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority will consider on Wednesday whether his trainer Gordon Elliott is in breach of the post-January 4 2022 Rules of Racing due to the presence of a prohibited substance urine sample taken from Zanahiyr after the race on March 15.

Ridden by Jack Kennedy, the pair were beaten four and a lengths by Honeysuckle, with Epatante in second.

In fourth place and set to benefit from any disqualification was the Willie Mullins-trained Saint Roi, like Epatante owned by JP McManus.