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Dessie in December - 3rd January 2013



Congratulations to trainer Dessie Hughes in December in the Kells Maiden Hurdle 4yo in Navan with Lieutenant Colonel under Davy Russell, he tracked the leaders from the start and pushed on into 2nd in the final furlong. In Punchestown, Dessie gained two firsts and two seconds all under Bryan Cooper. His first win came with favourite Apache Jack, owned by Mrs P Sloan, in the 2014 Annual Membership Maiden Hurdle 5yo plus, chasing the leaders from the start, kept on strong throughout and had an easy run in, in the two mile maiden hurdle to win by 12 lengths. Dessie said afterwards, “He’s got a staying pedigree and is a three-miler. He should be able to go the novice route once he is going over a distance.” Off The Charts was 2nd in the Punchestown For Events Handicap Hurdle (Rated 80-116) 4yo plus, chasing the leaders from the start and pushed on to move into 2nd before the last and continuing on the same pace. Bright New Dawn in the Setanta Sports €1 Offer Beginners Steeplechase 4yo plus was ridden by Bryan Cooer after Davy Russell fell from his horse two races previous and was feeling sore. Favourite to win and owned By Gigginstown House Stud, he made a “successful debut over fences”, winning by half a length. Dessie said after, “He always looked like he’d make a chaser but it’s nice to see it happen. He’s in the three-mile Grade 1 (Topaz Novice Chase) at Christmas, and more than likely that’s where he’ll go...Hopefully he’ll go on from that and it was a good first run over fences. The second horse had already run and we were giving him 12lb. He jumped well.” In the Weatherbys Ireland GSB Handicap Steeplechase 4yo plus, Canaly led early, ridden clear two before the end, pushed on to reduce the gap on the winner and narrowly missed winning by a head on the run in.


Within the last week of December Thunder and Roses was in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle 5yo plus in Thurles. The second favourite under Davy Russell and owned by Gigginstown House Stud took the lead in the final yards of the run in, winning by a length. Dessie said afterwards, “It was way overdue to win his maiden hurdle. He's really a chaser but we'll look for a three mile conditions hurdle for him next. Hopefully he'll win a three mile hurdle before he goes over fences.”


In the first race of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival beginning on Boxing Day, the Bookmakers Bar At Bewleys Hotel Maiden Hurdle 5yo plus, Little Rocky under Bryan Cooper led from the second hurdle and kept on well under pressure in the final run in taking 2nd place, narrowly missing out by a head. In the third race of the day, the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) 3yo, Guitar Pete at 9-2 again under Bryan Cooper tracked the leader from the second hurdle and was in the lead after the third, and led again from the start of the final run in to win by seven lengths. In the last weekend of the month Dessie had four seconds and two thirds. Seefood in the second race of the day in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) 4yo plus under Bryan Cooper led from the fifth hurdle and kept on under pressure in the final run in facing competition, narrowly missing out on the win by three-quarters of a length. In the fifth race of the day, Minsk in the Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Steeplechase 4yo took 3rd under Danny Mullins, keeping on well under pressure in the final run in, just a head behind second place. Si C’etait Vrai also in the same race took 2nd place, tracking the leader from the second hurdle and kept on well under pressure in the final run in, 1.25 lengths behind the winner.


In the first race of the final day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Steeplechase (Rated 0-116) 4yo plus, Mackeys Forge under I J McCarthy began in mid-division and “improved to challenge entering the straight”, as he jumped the final fence he became a serious rival to the winner, narrowly missing out on the win by a neck. In the third race of the day, Ryanair Maiden Hurdle 5yo plus, Blue Bicycle under Danny Mullins chased the leaders from the start and pushed on to take 2nd place when entering the straight, keeping on the same pace in the final run in. 3-1 Our Conor was in the fourth race of the day in the Ryanair Hurdle (Grade 1) 4yo plus again under Danny Mullins who moved from fourth to third and then to second when entering the straight, and took 3rd place in the closing stages of the run in. Dessie said afterwards, “I felt coming here if he got within a few lengths it would be a good run. It's his first run over hurdles for eight months and the first time he's been up against older horses. I'm very happy with him and I think he'll come on for it." Jockey Danny Mullins also said, “He wasn’t that free, he turned his head around a little bit. A good run, he went to the last with Hurricane Fly who had the benefit of a run. There's a bit of improvement still there so we won’t lose faith yet. He’s only a four-year-old and will get stronger and I’d be happy enough with that. If all three get to the Irish Champion Hurdle it will be a great race again.”