Overseas raids allude to further big days ahead

In racing, as with anything, the rollercoaster keeps turning. Previewing the Cheltenham Festival, I outlined hopes as to where the greatest satisfaction would be derived from. Namely, if Noel Meade could win a race during the week, were the locally owned Mydor to turn up in any race during the four days, or if Los Amigos were to line up in the Kim Muir for Jim Dreaper.

Wouldn’t you know, none of the above transpired. The old thing about clouds and silver lining did ring true again however. Firstly as Mydor ran with distinction to finish third in a valuable handicap hurdle at Kempton and then seeing Ice Cold Soul – featured in my list of horses to follow last autumn – frank the long held view that he could be a bit special when collecting a Limerick bumper for Noel during the same weekend.

With Mydor, natural disappointment at coming up short should be readily sated by acknowledgement of several mitigating factors. Foremost among them a realisation that being placed in any contest in England on a Saturday is highly commendable. Especially over a trip that’d be a good bit short of the optimum for Tony Martin’s charge and on ground devoid of the cut which would’ve further enhanced the prospects of the Stormy River gelding annexing even further accreditation from what has already been a fantastic campaign for the horse and his connections.

More than that, the steed’s achievements have brought a sense of mirth to the locality which maybe only sport can. If the latest chapters in the stories of both Mydor and Goonyella had one common thread fusing them together it was that, in both cases, taken in context, the success of  both overseas raids alluded to further big days ahead.

It’d be unashamedly admitted, however, that the biggest thrill of all from that particular week was seeing the latter win the Midlands National at Uttoxeter. For a variety of reasons. Firstly as I’ve been blessed to befriend the Dreaper family in recent years. Even though it has to be said that I’ve known Nicky O’Connor – for so long a stalwart of Greenogue operations – all my life, in more recent years what’ll hopefully be lifelong connections have been cemented. Through knowing Nicky, the formative stages of my racing induction revolved around hearing of and following the feats of inmates such as the talented but injury plagued Carvills Hill and Harcon and Opera Hat.

Secondly because upon becoming properly acquainted with all things Dreaper, outside of the storied performances of yesteryear, Goonyella was the first of their current steeds to register on the radar here. Every one of his races has been viewed and, even from leading home one other finisher in a mud-splattered hunter chase in Limerick it was clear he was very talented. A win in a valuable Punchestown handicap soon followed and although that was the last success banked by the horse – nearly two years ago –

Thirdly because the history fan within latched on to the absolute aptness of the win, 40 years to the week Ten Up won the Gold Cup. And lastly because fondness for an ante post punt was again rewarded as the 12/1 wagered at early in the week of the race ended up being twice the SP on race day.

At Uttoxeter however, everything fell into place. Photographs of water on the course the night before simply heightened the anticipation. Still, the horse and his young rider had to have the knowhow and ability to see the job through. Both handsomely delivered, as even a typically stealthy Paul Carberry performance aboard Sandra Hughes’s Raz De Maree was repelled.

Giving trainer, rider, owners and perhaps most deservedly of all, the horse an overdue high profile success and valuable payday. And with an exciting bunch of young horses in the yard, more big days may happen for the spiritual home of Irish jump racing soon enough.




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