Hat-trick hero Fehily prepares for Silviniaco Conti mission
Noel Fehily will be a man riding with extreme confidence when he gets the leg up on Silviniaco Conti in the Grade 1 JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday after securing a 37.5-1 treble on three contrasting rides.
The first winner came in the opening 2m juvenile maiden hurdle on Nucky Thompson. Seizing the nettle in a race that lacked an obvious front-runner, Fehily made all on the Richard Spencer-trained runner to hold on from the rallying Castafiore.
Spencer trains a string of predominantly Flat horses in Newmarket for owners Rebel Racing, but is planning to be in action for a little longer over jumps while the ground remains on the quicker side of good.
He said: "We've got him, Groovejet and Excellent Result, who has been given a mark of 125 and may run at Cheltenham next week.
"It's been great. Phil Cunningham, who owns the yard I train from, and the lads, who own the horses are brilliant fun. We're hoping to take more horses in and build on things for next season."
Fehily's next winner required him to have his sensible hat on as the match race in the 2m novice chase turned into a solo mission early on when Pinkie Brown's only rival, Bantam, fell.
Popping around the rest of the circuit, Pinkie Brown came home to the loudest, and most ironic, cheers of the day.
Fehily said: "I heard a crash and when I got to the top of the hill I saw I was alone. It was about getting him home in one piece after that, and it will have done his confidence the world of good."
Fehily went on to complete his treble, and land a double for Neil Mulholland after the success of Pinkie Brown, when galvanising Ballydague Lady to get up in the dying strides to win the 2m4f handicap chase, for which he received a two-day whip ban (November 18 and 20).
Mulholland said: "She showed a very good attitude. They quickened away from her down the back but she was always jumping well and Noel knew her well enough to keep her rolling the whole way."
Like mother, like daughter
A gritty, determined attitude was the hallmark of Welsh Grand National winner L'Aventure, and her daughter Braventara showed much the same qualities when landing the 3m2f novice hurdle.
Chris Harriman, who owned L'Aventure and bred the winner, said: "She's made for this kind of race. I sent L'Aventure to Kayf Tara as I wanted to breed something good enough to win the Welsh Grand National hopefully.
"I used to buy my horses from France but I thought I had an elite mare so I might as well try breeding one. She's got two more by Kayf Tara and she's in foal at Overbury to Gentlewave. It's brilliant and I'm really enjoying everything."
Odello worth the wait for owners
It was third time lucky for owners J N G-M Racing as Odello became their first winner when scooting clear in the 2m mares' bumper under Gavin Sheehan.
Trainer Warren Greatrex said: "They're a great bunch and they've had two horses with me before that they've been unlucky with as one had a fatal accident and the other retired due to injury. They've got a good one here and she'll go hurdling now."
Thought for the day
The sooner the rain arrives and the ground eases the better. That's what most people would say. Small fields here were exacerbated by 18 non-runners, several of which were late, leaving punters facing big Rule 4 deductions, uncompetitive races and no each-way terms.