Bargain-buy Rashaan takes career earnings to nearly €250,000
Jett completes Jessica Harrington double on Irish National Day
Rashaan and Davy Russell jumping the last to win the Keelings Hurdle during day two of the Fairyhouse Easter festival at Ratoath, Co Meath. Photograph: PA
The one-time €8,500 Aga Khan cast-off Rashaan took his career earnings to almost €250,000 with a gutsy Grade Two success at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.
The star of Colin Kidd’s tiny Co Carlow team returned to form with a vengeance in the Keelings Hurdle having previously refused to race on his previous visit to Fairyhouse in December’s Drinmore Chase.
A combination of hurdles, 2½ miles and good ground transformed the popular little horse who was united with Davy Russell for the first time since the partnership beat Ornua at Galway last summer.
In an incident-filled race that saw Wicklow Brave fall at the third, Russell steered a wide course and at the line had half a length in hand on Not Many Left in second, with the favourite Off You Go in third.
Not Many Left looked unlucky having got squeezed up on the run to the last, and Rashaan had to survive a lengthy stewards inquiry to register a 13th career win in all.
A single start on the flat for the Aga Khan gave no indication of the bargain-buy’s prowess over jumps, and he has proved a horse of a lifetime for Kidd, who currently has only four horses in his yard.
“I have four in for the summer, and I’ve no aspirations to train 20 or 25. If I can get four that are capable of winning I’m happy with that,” said Kidd, who recalled Rashaan’s first major win as a juvenile hurdler at the track in 2015. “To still have him sound and come back and win a Grade Two is super.”
He blamed the application of cheek-pieces for Rashaan’s Drinmore blip, but added: “The thing about him is he’s much better from the spring through to autumn. He loves sun on his back. In the depths of winter he doesn’t like it.”
Jessica Harrington’s Jett dominated the Grade Two Devenish Chase from the front, and had too much in hand for The Storyteller.
“He looks after himself jumping, and he’s probably more of a three-mile horse. I’ll keep him going through the summer as he loves that good ground,” Harrington said.
Harrington had earlier scored a 20-1 win in the opening handicap hurdle with The Holy One, whose jockey Paddy Kennedy denied his brother Jack a 20th birthday present on Kuiper Belt in a driving finish.
The Holy One survived a lengthy stewards inquiry after drifting left in the closing stages. However, Kennedy got a one-day ban for careless riding, and picked up another day for his use of the whip.
The Dreaper name is synonymous with the Irish National, and Sizing Coal secured a popular success in the handicap chase.
Sizing Coal’s trainer Jim Dreaper produced four winners of the big race in the 1970s, while his legendary father Tom holds a record 10 wins, including with Arkle in 1964.
His grandson of the same outlined plans for Sizing Coal to be back at Easter 2020 with National glory in his sights.
“When I was a kid, 125 [official rating] would have got him into the Irish National off 10st. But the class of the race nowadays is that 135 got in.
“If we’re all still alive I’d say we’ll be back here this time next year as long as the ground is this way. Today was the plan, but we could look at some of the summer Nationals as he wants good ground,” Tom Dreaper said.
The sole cross-channel contender at Fairyhouse on Sunday, Jonjo O’Neill’s Annie Mc, was barred from running over a vaccination error on her passport.
Nicky Henderson’s Countister is the only raider on the final leg of the Easter festival on Tuesday, and could produce a very different outcome in the featured €100,000 Rybo Handicap Hurdle.
The mare is one of four JP McManus runners in the race, and comes here on the back of a good third in Cheltenham’s County Hurdle.
Countister is a winner on good going, and that could prove a crucial factor against some prime home contenders who have mostly shown their best form with give in the ground.