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'It developed into a complete farce' - All Class comes home alone to land gamble

All Class and Donagh Meyler are out on their own as they land the 3m1½f handicap chase
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Tuesday: Punchestown

The Ronan McNally-trained mare All Class has not been a stranger to landing gambles in 2021, but rarely has a punt been delivered without a serious challenge as it did in the William Hill-sponsored handicap chase.

The daughter of Zanzibari was backed from 13-2 earlier in the day to 13-8 favourite under Donagh Meyler on what was her first start over fences since falling at Tramore in December. On her only completed run over fences for trainer Pat Griffin, she had been last of 14, beaten 120 lengths, in a mares' beginners' chase at Killarney in July 2020.

The race developed in quite a farcical manner. After leader Rudy Catrail unseated at the first fence, the veteran Capture The Drama went to the front and opened up a clear lead, with Donagh Meyler sitting some ten to 15 lengths off him, while the remainder of the field were soon a distance adrift of the favourite.

None of the chasing group made any sort of impression, and for All Class it was just a matter from some way out of beating one horse, which she did with consummate ease after going to the front between the last two fences.

This was the mare's first win for McNally, having landed a massive gamble for trainer David Dunne (66-1 to 9-2) in a Flat handicap at Navan in March, and he was keen to play down the gamble.

McNally said: "We had a few quid on, but I wouldn't read too much into it being a massive gamble. The bookies tend to run for cover with my horses.

Ronan McNally: "The bookies tend to run for cover with my horses"

"I also wouldn't read too much into the race, it developed into a complete farce. If we hadn't have followed the leader, we might have been in trouble while the rest were asleep. Hopefully the handicapper won't be too hard on her."

The stewards held an inquiry into the running and riding of the pursuers. All riders with the exception of the first two home and Shane Fenelon and Harry Swan, who both went at the first, were interviewed.

IHRB communications director Niall Cronin said: "The riders felt that the early fallers contributed to them getting so strung out early on and that they went very quick for the type of race it was. The stewards noted their explanations."

All Class is entered in handicap hurdles at Carlisle on Sunday and Ayr on Monday.

Good day for Fahey

It was a good day and almost a great one for Monasterevin trainer Peter Fahey and owner Paul Leech, who had flown in from America to see his two horses run.

Freedom To Dream (Kevin Sexton, right) fights off Sam's Choice to win the 2m5½f maiden hurdle

Surprise Package failed by a stride to beat the Gordon Elliott-trained I A Connect in the 2m conditions hurdle, but full recompense came 30 minutes later when the long-absent Freedom To Dream landed the 2m5½f maiden hurdle under Kevin Sexton.

"In fairness to Paul he comes over for all his runners, so to have a first and second today is great," said Fahey.

"This horse got a small injury in front and we gave him loads of time. He's open to an awful lot of improvement."

Results, replays and analysis 

Read more:

Yellow Sam: a perfectly executed gamble that netted Barney Curley a fortune

40-1 into 100-30 in ten minutes – extraordinary gamble landed at Thirsk

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We had a few quid on but I wouldn't read too much into it being a massive gamble
E.W. Terms