independent

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Dundee on way to Cheltenham

Fogarty guides outsider home

Shea Tomkins, Horse racing news

They came in their thousands to see if he could do it again, and even though two out he gave even the most loyal of his faithful a few nail-gnawing moments, all 8,216 of those present at Leopardstown on Sunday will testify to have seen the best hurdler of their generation in action, if not, perhaps, the best ever.

When unapologetically shaken up by pilot Ruby Walsh, Hurricane Fly (11/10f) scored yet another stunning success when seeing off stable companion Arctic Fire and old rival Jezki to win the Grade 1 BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle.

Now unbeaten in ten starts at the Dublin venue, Willie Mullins' eleven-year-old was winning the race for a record fifth time and brought his record number of Grade 1 wins to 22.

The champion trainer and Walsh had earlier won the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase with the hugely impressive odds-on Un De Sceaux (8/11f), who made all the running to beat Clarcam (an impressive winner at the same venue at Christmas) by 15 lengths.

Finishing third was the highly thought of Gilgamboa.

The Arkle Chase at Cheltenham will be the target for Un De Sceaux, and another sure to travel to the same Festival in March is Outlander (5/1) who impressed when taking the Grade 2 novice hurdle for Mullins and Paul Townend. A local horse for the notebook from Sunday is the Liz Doyle-trained Rafi De Triana who finished second to the bottom-weight Philip Rothwell-trained Paddy O'Dee in the two-mile, one-furlong handicap chase.

Davidstown trainer Paul Nolan left Fairyhouse smiling on Wednesday, and why wouldn't he, as Fine Theatre looked a top-class prospect when winning the Racing At Fairyhouse January 31st Maiden Hurdle by a whopping 13 lengths. The 20-1 outsider was ridden to victory by Cleariestown native Mikey Fogarty who has been in great form of late. Boris De Blae chased him home in second, while odds-on favourite Altiepix was back in third.

Nolan saddled his second winner in the space of 24 hours when the Luke Dempsey-ridden Dick Dundee (8/1) finished to good effect to win the two-mile, one-furlong opportunity handicap hurdle at Gowran Park on Thyestes day.

Nolan told irishracing.com afterwards: 'I didn't think he'd stay going as that's the first time he's finished a race on soft ground.

'He'll go for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham. He's rated 137 in Ireland, so shouldn't be too much higher in England.

'He's not the same horse over hurdles as fences. When he came off the bridle I thought there was no way he'd get home. I didn't think he'd handle the ground.'

Racing takes place at the following Irish racetracks over the coming days: Thurles, Thursday, January 29 (first race 1.35 p.m.); Dundalk, Friday, January 30 (first race 5.35 p.m.); Fairyhouse, Saturday, January 31 (first race 12.50 p.m.); and Punchestown, Sunday, February 1 (first race 1.40 p.m.).

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