Racecourse work-out for Danoli
IT IS as well that Tom Foley elected to school Danoli at another racecourse on Friday rather than waiting until after racing at Navan on Saturday. For, according to various jockeys and trainers, the ground was in a deplorable state at the Meath venue, and some assumed that it was not "put back" after the previous meeting seven days before. However, this was denied by the clerk of the course.
Anyway, Danoli is in good form after his schooling over nine fences, covering some 14 furlongs. His trainer, who for obvious reasons did not wish to divulge the location of the chaser's visit, is hoping that the ground stays good for Danoli at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day, when he is due to take on the promising English-trained Land Afar and the progressive Jeffell in the Dennys Gold Medal Chase.
"He hates tacky ground. I hope the ground is either good or that there is a lot of rain. The last thing we want is snow."
A riveting finish to the three miles Christmas Presents Hurdle was on the cards as the gigantic Alasad rose to the last flight locked in battle with Rosin The Bow. Richard Hughes gave Alasad a backhander a few strides before the obstacle while Charlie Swan was crouched low over Rosin The Bow.
Alasad jumped perfectly but skidded and fell on the second stride after landing, unfortunately breaking a shoulder in the process. The way was then left clear for Rosin The Bow, who sandwiched a winning hat-trick for the Swan O'Brien partnership, initiated by Toast The Spreece in the Irish Novice Hurdle and completed by Blaze Of Honour in the Navan Hurdle.
Toast The Spreece was five lengths clear on jumping the last. Likewise, Blaze Of Honour, who beat the fast-finishing Ground War. The runner-up was, as the saying goes, in the next parish on turning for home.
Ground War was adjudged not to have run on his merits and the stewards fined rider Michael Moran £750 and suspended him for 28 days. They banned the horse from racecourse action for the next 60 days and noted trainer Eamon Sheehy's explanation.
Like Toast The Spreece, Ancient Historian made all the running to win the opening Reindeer Handicap Hurdle, while Quattro was a convincing winner of the Santa Claus Handicap Chase.
Woodville Star looked certain to justify favouritism in the Tattersalls Ireland EBF Mares Novice Chase as she approached the second last in front. Instead, she suddenly ran across the fence, surrendering the lead to Dun Belle, who kept galloping to hold by six lengths the renewed efforts of Woodville Star.