Cheltenham Festival Dream still alive for Jessies

Jessies Dream, Ireland’s leading hope for the RSA Chase at the Festival suffered defeat at the odds of  4-9 in the Grade 2 Novice Chase. In what was meant to be an easy warm up for the Festival for Jessies Dream, it was instead the Dessie Hughes trained Magnanimity that crossed the line in front. Opinions are divided as to whether it was jockey error or the ground that caused the defeat. Jessies had made a few notable jumping errors and didn’t look entirely happy on the heavy ground. If you watch the replay closely Timmy Murphy was niggling at the horse on the final turn and the fact that the horse wasn’t flying at the end blows the jockey error theory out of the water. To me it’s clear that Timmy knows far more about race riding than most of the armchair jocks that are currently posting on various forums and come Cheltenham in March with good ground you will see the Jessies Dream that won the Drinmore in December. Take nothing away from the winner who will reportedly head for the RSA Chase too via the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase back at Leopardstown on 6 February. Jessies Dream will head straight to Cheltenham. Both horses are 16/1 for the RSA; Jessies Dream pushed out from 14s and Magnanimity first show. The race consisted of three runners instead of the declared five after the defection of Bob Lingo and Western Charmer.

It was a quick double for Dessie Hughes as he took the Grade A Handicap Chase with Rare Bob who made all with an exhibition round of jumping. A Grade 1 winner as a Novice at the Punchestown Festival in 2009, Rare Bob had also finished 3rd in a Listed race at Aintree last year on Grand National Day. In winning, this he gives JP Festival Gold Cup tip Midnight Chase form an enormous boost as he finished 8th to him at Cheltenham in December.  He now is on course for a tilt at the Ryanair at the Festival. The placed horses were Jessie Harrington’s’ Got Attitude and Arthur Moore’s’ Organised Confusion who ran on into 3rd.

Willie Mulllins trained the first two home in the 26 runner Grade B Handicap Hurdle. First Approach who was scraping the paint on the inside rail all the way round was eased into contention by jockey Paul Townend  and pulled clear on the home turn, despite an error at the final hurdle he held on to claim victory from stable mate Call The Police by two lengths. Prima Vista who had been raised 15lb from his victory at Christmas was sent off the 7-2 favourite and finished seventh. Jockey Paul Carberry reported him as never travelling.

Next Leopardstown meeting is on 24 January 24 which features the Irish Champion Hurdle and The Irish Arkle Chase.

Guest post by Cathryn Fry