Bryan Cooper looking forward to riding Last Instament at Thurles for Gigginstown Stud
Co Tipperary trainer Philip Fenton anxious to find out what level former top novice is now at
Last Instalment winning the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase in 2012 befoe his long-term injury.
It might be rare for injured stars to come back as good as they once were but Philip Fenton hopes not one but two of his best performers – Last Instalment and Dunguib – can prove exceptions to the rule next week.
Both Grade One-winning horses have been absent from the track for long periods with leg problems but are ready to make up for lost time with the 40/1 Cheltenham Gold Cup entry Last Instalment on course to run in tomorrow week’s Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles.
The Gigginstown Stud-owned runner hasn’t been seen since winning the second of his two Grade One victories as a novice in the 2012 Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown but has already been mentioned by Gigginstown’s new number one jockey Bryan Cooper as a horse he is particularly looking forward to riding.
Fenton confirmed Cooper will get the chance in next week’s Grade Two Chase and the Co Tipperary trainer is anxious himself to find out what level Last Instalment is now at following his long spell on the sidelines.
“He’s been off for practically two years but he’s ready to start off again in the Kinloch Brae. He looked a high-class horse as a novice and I hope he’s still very good,” he said yesterday.
Last Instalment is a 40/1 shot in some ante-post lists for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Fenton added: “He’s in it. It might be a bit ambitious, but the reality is if he does well and he wasn’t in it, you’d be asking why.”
Cooper is certainly anticipating the ride on Last Instalment and reported: “He has kind of been half-forgotten about, but if he makes it back to the level he was at as a novice, he’s definitely one to look forward to.”
It’s almost three years since Dunguib – once the brightest jumping prospect in Ireland – last raced, finishing behind Hurricane Fly in the 2011 Champion Hurdle.
Since then, the brilliant 10-length winner of the 2009 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, and a dual Grade One-winning novice hurdler, has been plagued by leg problems but Fenton has pinpointed the Grade Three Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas on Saturday week as a comeback date for Dunguib.
World Hurdle hero
That race provided the subsequent World Hurdle hero Solwhit with a first win in two seasons last year but even his injury-interrupted career pales in terms of lack of activity to Dunguib.
Since his controversial odds-on defeat in the 2010 Supreme at Cheltenham, Dunguib has run just three times, including winning at Gowran a month before that 2011 Champion Hurdle.
He is now an 11-year-old and Fenton has ruled out a chasing career at this stage but he has managed to get Dunguib back to race-fitness. “Age is against him but at the same time I believe we have a chance of getting him competitive again,” Fenton said.
Bryan Cooper’s range of steeplechase options in his new job for Gigginstown include his old ally First Lieutenant, who he memorably rode to Grade One success at Aintree last April. First Lieutenant’s range of top-class placed efforts was added to when he chased home Bobs Worth in the Lexus at Leopardstown over Christmas.
“He ran a cracker (in the Lexus) and he’s probably one of my favourite horses in training. He’s so tough,” Cooper said. “He went to Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown and ran great races each day and I think if he goes to the Hennessy he should be the one to beat.”
Tim Doyle is pondering a Grade One attempt of his own later this month with his impressive Naas scorer Mallowney. The former good novice hurdler could take his chance against Defy Logic in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Trophy at Leopardstown in over three weeks time. The Grade Two Flyingbolt Chase at Navan in mid-February is an alternative option.