HEAVEN Help Us provided trainer Paul Hennessy and young Conna jockey Richard Condon with the biggest success of their careers in the Grade B Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins (Mares) Handicap Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown last weekend.
The seven-year-old found herself back over timber after a relatively unsuccessful spell over fences and she looked much more at home.
Condon took a lead into the straight off Razzle Dazzle Love, before kicking off the bend and seemingly putting the race to bed.
However, the 16/1 chance slowed into the final flight and lost some momentum, giving JJ Slevin a squeak on Global Equity, but Heaven Help Us held on by a neck.
Speaking to the Echo, Richard Condon said: "I was delighted to get the ride and I'm so grateful to trainer Paul Hennessy and owner John Turner for giving me the opportunity."
He added: "She had great form in the book and she had worked well in the Curragh the week before. I knew we weren't going there to make up the numbers."
"She did it well in fairness. That was only my second win in Ireland, my 10th career victory overall and to ride it in a €100,000 handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival was great.
"I'm overwhelmed with all the support, it's great publicity and hopefully, I can keep the ball rolling."
Speaking to Irishracing.com Paul said of the mare and the success: "It’s a great thrill to win Paddy’s race. We were neighbours and when I was a young lad he would often bring me to the races and make sure I got home as well.
"She was second here in a Grade 1. I wasn’t sure she was as mad about the fences. She’ll do it for you but was not really in love with it so we said we’d switch her back to hurdles.
“Niall Prendergast does all the work with her and Richie (Condon) came in to ride her out so with Danny not available he got the ride and can claim 7lb.
“She might go for a Pertemps Qualifier at Punchestown to try and get her into Cheltenham. I’d love to have a runner at the Festival.
“We were beaten in a final at Shelbourne last night when the gaps didn’t open so this is fantastic.”
Trainer Paul Hennessy and owner John Turner are no stranger to success either in the world of greyhound racing. Jockey Richard Condon is another big greyhound man, his father John is enjoying plenty of recent success at Youghal greyhound track.
Cheltenham could be the next stop for Heaven Help Us.
Leading Irish trainer Paul Nolan is looking at alternatives to the Festival Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham festival as Latest Exhibition was beaten for a third straight time by his rival Monkfish at Leopardstown in the Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Nolan said to ATR: “In fairness, we were well and truly beaten. I don’t think it’s my fellow regressing, I just think Monkfish is a year younger and still improving.
“Maybe my fellow didn’t quite run up to total scratch, but I don’t have any excuses really.
“At the end of the day, my horse was a good second and had some good horses behind him.”
Leading Irish trainer Mouse Morris has given a stark warning to ante-post backers of his horse Gentlemansgame for the Cheltenham festival, with the handler suggesting he may not end up going to Prestbury Park in March.
The five-year-old looks a superb recruit for the yard and owner Robcour having been bought and given to Morris off the back of landing a point to point in Ireland by five lengths.
He finished a staying-on second behind superstar Gaillard Du Mesnil, seeing off Stattler and Fakiera in the final stages. “I was delighted with him, I really was,” said Morris to ATR.
“But whether he travels (to Cheltenham), we’ll have to see. I just don’t know yet.
“If he goes he’d probably run over two-five, as the three-mile race has a gruelling reputation. It can leave a mark. No one seems to know what is happening with the travelling yet, either.
"We’ll keep all options open, it’s just a bit early to commit to anything yet.
“He’d be more unlikely than likely, I think. I’d be holding my powder, that’s what I’d be advising them to do.”
Wherever he turns up next, he is worth a second look.
Multiple Grade One winner over fences and hurdles, Defi Du Seuil will not be heading to the Cheltenham Festival this year with his trainer Philip Hobbs happy to pull up stumps for this term and bring him back better than ever next season.
Hobbs said of the dual festival hero: "It has been decided after Ascot he is better off missing the rest of the season. There's no reason at all why he shouldn't be back properly next season, but having had two disappointing runs we felt that was the best thing to do.
"It was going to get very tight to get him to Cheltenham this year so it seemed to make more sense to give him a break. He is still with us at the moment, but he will go back to Martinstown [owner JP McManus's home]."