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Good start to the New Year - 7th February 2014

Congratulations to trainer Dessie Hughes in the first race of the day in the New Year at Fairyhouse in the New Year Maiden Hurdle 5yo where Lieutenant Colonel tracked the leaders from the start and progressed throughout to win by 14 lengths under Bryan Cooper. Dessie said afterwards, “I'd my first ever winner (Church Island) in this race in 1980 and rode it myself!” He added “He (Lieutenant Colonel) improved from his run at Navan and is a decent horse; the horse that beat him then looks a fair horse...He looked to stay well and is great jumper; the majority of their horses (Gigginstown House Stud) jump exceptionally well and he should be able to compete in a few of the novices after that.” In the second race of the day, Bobbyjo Bistro (Mares) Maiden Hurdle 5yo plus, Rock’s Field again under Bryan Cooper tracked the leaders from the start and pushed on to take 3rd place, 2 lengths behind. Dessie and Bryan landed a double on this day in the Special Offers Bobbyjo Bistro Handicap Hurdle (Rated 80-116) 4yo plus with Off the Charts. The joint favourite with two others, tracked the leaders and progressed to challenge entering the straight and taking the lead, kept on well in the run in to win by a length and a half. Dessie said afterwards, “It's good that he's won anyway. He went up 4lb the last day for finishing second.” Stable jockey to Dessie, Bryan Cooper has now moved to be the number one jockey at Gigginstown House Stud. At the end of this race Dessie said, “I'm not that pleased. It's a good job for him but a big blow for me...It's taken me four years to make him. He's mature now and at his best. He'll still ride for me, hopefully as much as he can."

On Sunday at Naas, Roger Loughran was in the Annual Membership At Naas Maiden Hurdle 5yo plus with Morney Wing on his debut and finished in 2nd, two and three quarter lengths behind. He began in mid-division, progressing from fourth to third at the last and kept on to take second in the final run in. In the Slaney Novice Hurdle (Grade 2) 5yo plus also in Naas and under Bryan Cooper, Apache Jack led at the start and faced a challenge and was under pressure, jumping together at the second last with the winner and favourite, taking 2nd place on the final run in, two and a quarter lengths behind.

In the second weekend in January at Punchestown, Si C’etait Vrai under Bryan Cooper and owned by Gigginstown House Stud was in the first race, Festival Hospitality From #99 Beginners Steeplechase 5yo plus, taking the lead from the third and kept on in the run in. The 10/11 favourite was overtaken on the run in to the final fence and took 2nd place, three-quarters of a length behind. In the Follow On Facebook & Twitter Handicap Hurdle 4yo plus, Thunder and Roses again under Bryan Cooper and owned by Gigginstown House Stud, started in mid-division and moved up to third after the third fence, he went on to take the lead and in the final strides of the run in, the 2/1 favourite took 2nd place, a head behind.

In Gowran in the PMF Accountants Beginners Steeplechase 5yo plus, Some Tikket under Bryan Cooper led from the second hurdle and continued to challenge throughout and kept on well in the run in to win by five and a half lengths. Dessie’s daughter Sandra said afterwards, “We thought he was a two-miler but the way to ride him is to keep filling him up and come with one run.”

In Leopardstown that weekend, Dessie had a first in the first race of the day with Back Before Dawn under Bryan Cooper in the leopardstown.com (Mares) Maiden Hurdle of 4yo plus. Starting in mid-division, she progressed and “stayed on to challenge, leading the run-in and kept on well” to win by two and a quarter lengths. Dessie said afterwards, “She's a nicely bred mare – the dam won a good few.” “This one herself was bought at Fairyhouse (Tattersalls) and ran well over hurdles at Tipperary – back over flights today suited her and she did it well...It probably wasn't the strongest Leopardstown maiden ever but it's great for the lads to get a win.” In the second race, January Jumps Weekend Maiden Hurdle of 5yo plus, Emperor of Exmoor under Roger Loughran and Wrath Of Titans under Bryan Cooper took 3rd and 4th, the first two and three-quarter lengths behind the winner and the latter was a further two and a quarter lengths back. They both chased the leaders from the start with Emperor Of Exmoor moving up to second halfway and soon progressed to challenge. In the Boylesports.com Killiney Novice Steeplechase (Grade 2) 5yo plus, Bright New Dawn again under Bryan Cooper led from the start, regaining the lead after the seventh hurdle, was at a head to head on the run in and kept on the same pace to take 2nd, four lengths behind. The BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 4yo plus, saw Our Conor under Danny Mullins race in third from the start, pushing on to “gain a slight lead at the last”, headed and kept on to take 2nd place, one and a half lengths behind. Dessie said afterwards, “I'm disappointed a bit but thrilled he improved, which I thought he would.” “He's just a bit young but for a five year old to do that, I think was a tremendous performance. He was nearly the last horse off the bridle which was a fantastic feat in itself beside that horse (Hurricane Fly). For three or four strides after the last I thought we had him but the other old boy just wore him down...Being a young horse, he should improve and I think Cheltenham improved him last year; he was definitely a stone better horse last year at Cheltenham.” 

“Our Conor's prize money, €22,000, has, as per his owner Barry Connell's generous instructions, been added to the Jockeys' Emergency Fund.”

   In the final few days of racing in January at Thurles, Afterclass under Brian Cooper was in the thurles.ie Maiden Hurdle 5yo plus, tracking the leaders from the start and finishing in 3rd. Off The Charts under MP Walsh was in the Thurles Handicap Hurdle 4yo plus, tracking the leaders from the start, progressed to third when entering the straight and challenged approaching the last hurdle and led on the final run in, winning by three-quarters of a length. Owned by JP McManus and trained by Dessie Hughes, he said afterwards, "It's tough conditions out there but he stays well and we'll probably look to go over three miles the next day...He doesn't really look like being a chaser and hopefully he'll win again over hurdles."