Foley pleased with Danoli's performance


DANOLI can look forward to couple of weeks of sharp-work in preparation for the Smurfit Champion Hurdle following his emphatic victory over Tiananmen Square in Saturday's Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park.

Trainer Tom Foley said yesterday that he was "very very happy" with his stable star and paid tribute to the gelding's performance in gaining his eight lengths success.

"He was riding on ground opposite to what he really wanted and he had to do the donkey work" said Foley. "And you've got to remember Tiananmen Square is no mug. He's a horse that beat Montelado at his best in winning the Punchestown Festival bumper and you've got to be talented to do that.

"Tomorrow, we'll start Danoli again and get a fortnight of sharp work into him. He'll do a nice little bit of work," Foley added.

While Danoli's preparations, continue to go smoothly, fellow, Champion Hurdle hope Atours will miss his intended tune-up for Cheltenham, the Grade Two KJ Pike and Sons Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Thursday, after sustaining an injury at exercise yesterday.

And trainer David Elsworth is far from optimistic about his chances of readying the eight-year-old for the National Hunt Festival, which features the Champion on its opening day, Tuesday March 12th.

The news comes as another blow to Elsworth's assault on the Champion, as his stable stalwart Oh So Risky - twice runner-up in the brace - broke a blood vessel when pulled up behind Mole Board at Ascot on Wednesday.

Irish-trained Champion aspirants Fortune And Fame and Montelado are also doubtful for Cheltenham, with the latter expected to be officially ruled out by trainer Pat Flynn today.

Meanwhile, Kim Bailey, trainer of reigning Champion Hurdler Alderbrook, also the 2 to 1 favourite to retain his title, was mystified - and seemingly very annoyed - by Graham Bradley's failure to arrive at the Old Manor yesterday to ride the seven-year-old entire prior to the Wincanton.

Bailey, deprived of the services of stable jockey Norman William son and Jamie Osborne, had expected to give Bradley the leg up abroad Alderbrook for the Kingwell.

"The 35-year-old jockey was due to acquaint himself with the bay and Bailey was at a loss to explain his absence. "Alderbrook schooled very well this morning, ridden by Jimmy McCarthy, because Graham Bradley didn't turn up," said the trainer.

Quizzed as to a reason for Bradley's non-arrival, Bailey responded: "It's a good question, but I don't know because I haven't spoken to him. You had better ask him."

But despite the mix-up over jockeys, Bailey expressed himself pleased with the workout by Alderbrook.

The Ardross horse has not run over timber since claiming the title last March, having been sidelined through injury since he last ran on the Flat at the end of May.

"He's pretty straight for Wincanton - he will improve a little bit, but not a great deal," - added Bailey, who has yet to reach a final decision as to who will ride Alderbrook on Thursday.