Cork jockey Richie Condon back on course with History of Fashion

After serious injury, Condon rode a winner at Down Royal this week
Cork jockey Richie Condon back on course with History of Fashion

History of Fashion and Cork jockey Richie Condon win the Molson Coors Handicap Steeplechase. Picture: Healy Racing

THE action moves to Cheltenham tomorrow with the JP McManus pair of Champ and Chantry House getting their final races before the festival which is only seven weeks away.

Following the magnificent clash between Shishkin and Energumene last weekend the action at headquarters will be followed closely by punters. The two day Dublin Racing Festival takes place here next weekend with many of our leading horses entered.

Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Chantry House flopped in the King George VI Chase over Christmas, but won what was the Marsh at last year’s festival and is 16-1 for the big one.

His victories here and at Aintree make him the stand out candidate in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase. Champ had been viewed as a Gold Cup hope in the autumn, but went back over hurdles to win Ascot’s Long Walk before Christmas and is in the Welsh Marches Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle.

Cheltenham also hosts the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Hillcrest, an emerging star for Henry Daly, is in that along with Balco Coastal.

But all eyes will be on Chantry House who was sent off 3-1 favourite for Kempton’s Christmas feature but was never travelling well and was pulled up at the 12th fence.

The eight-year-old has the chance to put himself back in the frame for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which he is a 16-1 chance.

“The plan is for him to go there. He was very disappointing on the day in the King George,” Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus said.

“We couldn’t find the reason for it, but Nicky seems to be very happy in the meantime and hopefully he’ll have a nice run on Saturday.

“You’d like to think the Gold Cup would be the target, but we have to get Saturday out of the way first and see how he gets on.”

Brian and Jack Healy from Carrigtwohill having fun at the Point to Point Meet at Killeagh. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Brian and Jack Healy from Carrigtwohill having fun at the Point to Point Meet at Killeagh. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Following his agonising defeat on Shiskin Paul Townend was aboard Allaho who produced a fine front-running performance to run out an easy winner of the Grade 2 Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles last Sunday.

Willie Mullins’ charge had claimed the same race last season on his way to a devastating display in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and he was shortened into 6/4 favourite for a festival repeat by both Paddy Power and Betfair.

Townend took up his customary front-running position on the 4/11 shot and he started to turn the screw on his rivals from the second last fence. The winning team stretched away going down to the last and gave it plenty of air as he secured victory.

Townend was easing up on the run-in as he posted a 12-length victory over Fakir D’oudairies.

“It took a while for him to get warmed up and he was sticky over the first few fences, where I thought he might have needed some company. He didn’t jump really well until the fourth or fifth fence but flew the last and Paul said he was flying at the finish,” Willie Mullins said.

”He is a big horse — we’ve had some huge horses over the years Douvan, Monkfish and him.

“Some of those big horses can’t adjust at fences but he can and danced in front of a couple of fences and does it very easily.

“If he’s not right, he isn’t afraid of taking a few quick steps to get out over them. We were very happy with him at home and that is it until the Ryanair — more than likely that is the race for him.”

The Ahern, Cotter and Pyne family groups from Bartlemy seen at the Point to Point in Killeagh recently. Picture: Howard Crowdy
The Ahern, Cotter and Pyne family groups from Bartlemy seen at the Point to Point in Killeagh recently. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Conna rider Richie Condon returned from serious injury with a winner at Down Royal earlier in the week, landing the Molson Coors Handicap Chase on History Of Fashion, whose trainer Pat Fahy will now chart an old-fashioned National route.

Condon partnered Paul Hennessy’s Heaven Help Us to win the Coral Cup in March and The Mean Queen to win the American Grand National last summer but fracturing vertebrae in a fall three months ago and returned with one unplaced ride at Thurles last week.

But this was a comfortable victory for Condon who had eight lengths win over his nearest rival Dubai Devils.

Winning trainer Fahy later revealed “he comes from the family of Height Of Fashion (runner-up to Arkle in the 1964 Irish Grand National) and I was trying to sell him one time and told everybody about this, but they wouldn’t listen.

“I said ‘I’ll win the Irish National — we won’t have Arkle to beat!’ but they were laughing at me.

“It’s very much on the cards now as needs a trip and if it was another mile. he’d just be coming into it. He jumps a bit to the right but he is a lovely horse and I’m delighted with that.”

Committee member Maurice Smiddy ready to pull cars out from the muddy car park during the Point to Point at Killeagh. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Committee member Maurice Smiddy ready to pull cars out from the muddy car park during the Point to Point at Killeagh. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Cork man Joe Donnelly and Shishkin enjoyed some reception at Ascot last weekend following their breath-taking victory over Energumene.

Nicky Henderson had been fairly bullish coming into the race and was a relieved man after.

“It was built up and it produced. They are two great horses. There was no point hiding. Energumene was going to set a good gallop and we had to keep in touch. There were moments it looked as if we weren’t going as well but he stays very well, he possibly does drift a little bit,” Henderson said.

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