The final Grade 1 on the last day saw an emerging star in the two mile hurdling division in the form of Unaccompanied (IRE). The Moyglare Stud homebred was a high class juvenile hurdler last year and has made a successful transition to open company, beating the favourite Thousand Stars comfortably enough to fuel Champion Hurdle dreams for trainer Dermot Weld. “She’s a very good mare and it was a lovely performance and a lovely ride by Paul,” reported the winning trainer. I’ll talk to Eva Marie Haefner[from the owners] but the Irish Champion Hurdle in a month’s time is the logical step. If everything went well we’ll look at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Unaccompanied is a daughter of Danehill Dancer and she has the distinction of beating St. Nicholas Abbey in the Alleged Stakes at The Curragh last April.
In the UK, Irish bred Fingal Bay (IRE) maintained his unbeaten record in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury on New Years Eve. The son of Kings Theatre is now five from five for connections and he has answered every call with the minimum of fuss. He is not a flashy horse but gives the impression he has a lot left in the tank if required as a he keeps pulling out more for regular partner Richard Johnson. His trainer Philip Hobbs is keen to get another run into the 6yo before Cheltenham as he still feels he has more to learn about racing. Fingal Bay was bred by James Kinsella who sold him as a foal in Tattersalls Ireland for €16,000 to Richard Rohan.
Finian’s Rainbow (IRE) was another Irish bred horse to impress over the period. The former Irish point to point winner landed the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase over two miles at Kempton for the formidable alliance of trainer Nicky Henderson, jockey Barry Geraghty and owner Michael Buckley. His ultimate aim this season is the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.