Zanahiyr puts down Triumph marker at Leopardstown

Zanahiyr took his unbeaten jumping record to three when landing Grade Two honours in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown, with trainer Gordon Elliott absent after testing positive for coronavirus.

A maiden winner on the Flat when with Michael Halford, the son of Nathaniel has done little wrong over the smaller obstacles since joining Elliott and boosted his claims for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham with an authoritative success.

Carrying a 3lb penalty for a Grade Three victory at Fairyhouse, the 1-2 favourite justified his prohibitive odds in the manner his supporters would have hoped.

Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Druid’s Altar and Busselton made the early running and while the former started to weaken, Busselton made a brave effort to go with Zanahiyr, who had made smooth progress under Jack Kennedy to come into contention and ultimately swept the O’Brien newcomer aside to score by three and three-quarter lengths.

Zanahiyr and Jack Kennedy at Leopardstown
Zanahiyr and Jack Kennedy at Leopardstown (Gary Carson/PA)

“That was a great performance,” said Kennedy.

“It was a complete opposite sort of race than the last day. We went very steady and he still won, so it just shows that he can do it any way.

“He only did what he had to. Quilixios (unbeaten stablemate) is very good as well, but I think he might edge him.”

Zanahiyr was cut to 100-30 favourite from 4-1 for the Triumph by Betfair.

The victory completed a quick double for Elliott and Kennedy after Wide Receiver’s win in the preceding race.

Gordon Elliott has tested positive for coronavirus
Gordon Elliott has tested positive for coronavirus (Simon Cooper/PA)

Elliott revealed he was self isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.

In a statement read out by Brian Gleeson on RTE Racing, Elliott said: “As part of the recommended return from travel Day 5 test, I have tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s come as a big surprise as I’ve been asymptomatic, and I will now continue to self-isolate for a further 10 days.

“Since the test result has come back, we have had all the staff here at Cullentra tested, and thankfully all tests have come back negative.”

Zanahiyr is Triumph favourite after Fairyhouse romp

Gordon Elliott’s Zanahiyr was catapulted into Triumph Hurdle favouritism following a stunning display in the Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The Grade Three contest was arguably the strongest race of its type run this season, with Willie Mullins’ Saint Sam and Joseph O’Brien’s Druid’s Altar also representing strong form.

Approaching the second last, Druid’s Altar was left behind, and it soon became apparent that Jack Kennedy on Zanahiyr was travelling much better than the odds-on favourite.

He was soon sent clear, and Paul Townend quickly accepted the result on Saint Sam, as Zanahiyr (16-5) pulled 14 lengths clear.

The ex-Mick Halford-trained winner is 10-1 favourite for the Triumph with Coral.

“We thought he was nice at home,” said Elliott.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“He did it well in Ballinrobe, and I thought he came on a lot from the race.

“I thought it was a good performance. Jack said he travelled and jumped. He did it all very easily.

“He’s a big horse and is going to get stronger. He’s not just a juvenile and could be a nice horse for those good staying Flat races as well.

“He’ll probably want another run before the Triumph, so he could go to Leopardstown at Christmas or February. We’ll try and keep him and Quilixios apart as long as we can.

“That’s Noel and Valerie Moran’s first Graded winner, so that’s very important as well. They are big investors in the game.”

The Tom Mullins-trained Court Maid (17-2) has thrived for the switch to fences and took her record to three from four in the valuable BARONERACING.COM Porterstown Handicap Chase.

The three-mile-five trip proved no obstacle, and the seven-year-old looks a natural for all the top staying handicaps after pulling 13 lengths clear of the favourite Brace Yourself under David Mullins.

“We’ve always thought the Irish National was her target, but she went ahead of us and won today!” said the successful trainer.

“The prize money was bumped up today, so we’ll see what happens. She has the class. She disappointed at Punchestown in the Florida Pearl – but everything went wrong, so I just put a line through it.”

Advanced Virgo was a 14-1 winner of the Bar One Racing Extra Places Handicap Hurdle, for Charles Byrnes and Kevin Brouder.

Byrnes said: “I’m very happy. He looked to be on a nice mark, because he’d shown improved form on the Flat.

“We’re not having too many winners, which might explain his price – Leopardstown in February might be an option.

“He jumped out to his left early on but then he warmed up.”

Grand Paradis (6-5 favourite) ensured it was a day Elliott would not forget in a hurry, bringing up a four-time for the stable when taking the closing bumper.

Elliott also won the Royal Bond with Ballyadam and the Drinmore Novice Chase with Envoi Allen.