Commanding display by Dorans Pride
Dorans Pride won yesterday's Kilkenny Champion Chase, the returning hero Danoli finished third, and everybody ended up happy. Gowran Park was awash with the feel-good factor.
Dorans Pride ran out a very impressive winner and is now as low as 10 to 1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the third attempt. Despite it being his first run since April, Richard Dunwoody had Michael Hourigan's horse tracking Merry Gale throughout, and after taking it up in the straight, Dorans Pride easily held off the challenge of Hill Society.
However, Danoli received an equally vocal welcome back to the enclosure. Tom Foley's immensely popular horse was having his first run in 580 days, jumped adequately, and although Tom Treacy was niggling him from a long way out, Danoli kept going well to be beaten a total of only 16 lengths.
"I'm very happy. He's a long way from being fully fit and will improve immensely," grinned Foley, who reported that Danoli had lost a front shoe at the third fence.
"He got tired from a long way out, but considering I would have been quite happy to come last as long as he got around all right, I am delighted. If someone wants to put on a race before Christmas then we'll run, but he will not run in a handicap," Foley added.
Dorans Pride will have a choice of races at Clonmel and Punchestown next, and although he is rising 10, his trainer is convinced the horse is better than ever.
"He really is an awful lot better this year, a different horse. I used to ride him at home sometimes myself but not any more. He could just explode under you!" said Hourigan, who refused to speculate beyond the next race.
However, Leopardstown's Ericsson Chase at Christmas definitely is a target for Danoli; it could be for Dorans Pride, and looming behind them all is the formidable shape of the 9 to 2 Gold Cup favourite, Florida Pearl, who is set to reappear in the Ericsson.
Yesterday's runner-up Hill Society will be taking on a different route, but despite a mistake at the fifth last, pleased his trainer Noel Meade. Meade also had to be content with the runner-up spot in the juvenile hurdle, as the 4 to 5 favourite Miss Emer couldn't confirm her Fairyhouse debut run with Goldanzig, who made virtually all the running under an enterprising ride from Ruby Walsh.
"Ruby really rode him the right way today and told me that if he had done the same the last day, then Goldanzig might have won," said the winner's trainer, Frances Crowley.
The Piltown handler also won the maiden hurdle with Coolaness, and this race, the latest in the Ireland-Australia jockeys series, left the overall points total at 16-6 in the home team's favour.
The 2 to 7 favourite Crystal Downs duly won the seven-furlong maiden very easily, while 18-year-old Gary Walsh from Naas rode his first winner on Sawa-Id in the amateur riders race.