Foxrock set for Cheltenham after Grade Two success
Former bumper champion Dunguib back in winner’s enclosure to seal festival chance
Brian O’Connell was again successful aboard Dunguib at Navan in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Champion Hurdle contender Our Conor is unquestionably the headline act among Barry Connell’s Cheltenham festival team, but the Dublin owner is adding to his supporting cast all the time and Foxrock looks set to run in the four-mile National Hunt Chase after securing back-to-back Grade Two wins at Navan yesterday.
On the back of a narrow but ultimately decisive success in the Ten Up Novice Chase, bookmakers certainly believe the amateur contest is next up for Foxrock who was cut to as low as 5 to 1 favourite for the festival marathon in some lists.
Taking the amateur route will be no use to Danny Mullins but prior to Foxrock’s success, Connell’s retained jockey had also scored in the familiar yellow and blue colours aboard Inis Mean who defied top weight in the opening handicap hurdle to earn consideration for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.
It all adds to a hugely-powerful book of rides for the 21-year-old rider, although both he and Connell appear well aware that it is Our Conor who is centre stage.
“He’s very well and it’s all systems go now,” said Connell. “Last season he improved and improved with every run and that is proving the case again. What we need is a true-run race and being a Champion Hurdle, 99 times out of a hundred you get that.”
Genuine and tough
Foxrock can’t compare with Our Conor in terms of pace but he bows to few in terms of stamina and after scoring at Grade
Two level at Naas last month, he did the same yesterday, beating My Murphy by just half a length after being briefly headed by the third Clar Na Mionn on the run-in.
“Most jump lads like to put it to bed by three or four lengths but Danny rides with that flat style and they like to have a bit left,” said Foxrock’s trainer Ted Walsh who never won the Cheltenham four-miler as a jockey, although his daughter Katie memorably won it in 2010 on Poker Di Sivola.
“He did what he had to do there, and he always pulls out a bit. I love the way he puts his head down,” added Walsh.
“We’ll see how he is in three weeks’ time and if he’s healthy and well I know Barry would like to go there.”
Almost three years since his previous victory, the former bumper champion Dunguib returned in style to the winner’s enclosure in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle.
The success is likley to earn the Philip Fenton-trained contender a fourth trip back to the Cheltenham festival.