Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle
Grade 1, £120,000 added,
4yo plus,
2m 5f, Class 1
Wednesday 12th March 2014

1 Faugheen 6/4
2 Ballyalton 20/1
3 Rathvinden 11/2
NR: Royal Boy (FR)
15 ran Distances: 4½l, ½l, 1l
TIME 4m 54.80s (fast by 2.20s)

Owner Rich Ricci was full of praise for jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins after Faugheen romped to a four and a half length victory in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Faugheen
© Caroline Norris

Faugheen

The six-year-old was always travelling sweetly under Walsh and turned for home on the bridle having flattened the third-last hurdle which briefly halted his momentum. He had all of his rivals in trouble as the field turned for home and when Walsh asked him for his effort, he fairly scampered away from his rivals to justify 6/4 favouritism.

"Gosh, that was magic wasn't it?" said Ricci.

"He was just brilliant. He's been a very hard horse to keep right but Willie and Ruby have done a fantastic job with him. He's not the biggest and he's had a lot of niggles throughout the season. Most of his health issues have been with his back. We've had to be careful with him but Willie has been fantastic with the way he's wound him up and then let him down again.

"The leap at the last was brilliant wasn't it? His jumping was always going to be a bit of a concern and I thought his mistake three out could have cost him. I don't always watch them jumping the last and I didn't again here. Maybe I should start watching them though as he was amazing at the last. Willie is just magic isn't he?"

Ricci told Clare Balding on Channel 4 Racing that it was her who got him interested in jump racing.

"It's great, it's magic," explained the owner. "I was watching you (Clare) on television way back in 2005 and, always a fan of the Flat game, I thought you were so passionate about jumps. I said "oh, this must be interesting" and went to Sandown and stood next to a few of those things and it got me hooked. My wife would say you were to blame."

Asked how he watched races, he replied: "This is going to sound silly bit it's true. I usually have my back to the races and have a friend of mine, Joe, who tells me what is going on. Then I tend to watch over the last if I can bear it. I hardly saw a race yesterday. It is a silly thing - I don't know what it is but I am terrified. But it is wonderful, exciting and it is just great to have some luck. People are great."

Walsh was quick to praise Faugheen's lad after the race.

"I came into work six months ago and I was talking to the guy who looks after him," said Walsh.

"I said that there were a good bunch of novices in the barn and asked him what he thought. He said that Faugheen is the reason he comes into work every morning. I thought that was a fair statement but he was right.

"He jumped super to the third last, then he had enough at the second last and missed it, so I kept the revs up going to the last and he jumped it well. Willie said all along that he had a lot under the bonnet and, when you ask for it, it will be there and he was right. It was a smashing performance.

"It's difficult to compare him to Vautour (winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday) as they are completely different horses. He should make some chaser in time. I'm sure we won't rush to make any plans though."

William Hill

Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle
(registered As The Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle)
£120,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 5f, Class 1
15 ran
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places


Horse
Trainer
Jockey
Weight
SP
Distance
1
Faugheen
W P Mullins
R Walsh
11st 7lbs
6 - 4
Winner
2
Ballyalton
Ian Williams
W Kennedy
11st 7lbs
20 - 1
4 1/2 lengths
3
Rathvinden
W P Mullins
P Townend
11st 7lbs
11 - 2
1/2 length
4
Killala Quay
C E Longsdon
R Johnson
11st 7lbs
25 - 1
1 length
5
Twelve Roses
K C Bailey
Sam Twiston-Davies
11st 7lbs
66 - 1
3 3/4 lengths
6
Lieutenant Colonel
D T Hughes
B J Cooper
11st 7lbs
10 - 1
3 1/2 lengths
7
Cole Harden
W Greatrex
G Sheehan
11st 7lbs
40 - 1
1 1/2 length
8
Shanahan's Turn
H de Bromhead
A E Lynch
11st 7lbs
50 - 1
2 lengths
9
Red Sherlock
D Pipe
T Scudamore
11st 7lbs
7 - 2
7 lengths
10
Cup Final
N J Henderson
A P McCoy
11st 7lbs
16 - 1
21 lengths
11
Cocktails At Dawn
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 7lbs
33 - 1
8 lengths
12
Fennell Bay
J P Ferguson
D F O'Regan
11st 7lbs
28 - 1
3/4 length
13
Knock House
M R Channon
D Elsworth
11st 7lbs
50 - 1
8 lengths
14
Creepy
M Keighley
Ian Popham
11st 7lbs
40 - 1
2 3/4 lengths
15
Midnight Thunder
C L Tizzard
Brendan Powell
11st 7lbs
150 - 1
50 lengths
NR
Royal Boy
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 7lbs
-
       

Mathematician Betting

FAUGHEEN EASY WINNER

The Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen justified 6/4 favouritism when running away with the race by four and a half lengths.

"We weren't sure about the quality of races he had been winning but he'd won them so easily and over different distances," said Mullins.

"He looks a real good one. When he blundered through the third last I thought he might fall in a heap. But Ruby let him recover and I was more than surprised to see him pick himself up again. That showed his class and is the sign of a good horse. He took the last as he met it, flew it and flew up at the hill.

"I thought what he did today was grand but for me Vautour yesterday was hugely exciting. What he did blew me away.

"Because Faugheen has won at two, two and a half and three, we weren't sure which race but we seemed to have a good horse for the two-mile and a good horse for the three-mile, so he just slotted into this race.

"Everyone seems to be trying to make hurdles out of my chasers and, although Faugheen will be staying over hurdles for the rest of the season, we bought him as a chaser.I think that with his temperament I'd prefer to send him chasing next season.

"Rathvinden ran very well in third. He missed the break and was never in a position. Paul (Townend) said he didn't like the quicker ground."

LEE'S GIFT TO DAD PROVES A HOLE IN ONE

A Christmas present from golfer Lee Westwood to his father John has proved to be a top-notch novice hurdler.

Ballyalton
© Racehorse Photos

Ballyalton

That was confirmed today when Ballyalton, a three-time winner already this season, finished the 20/1 runner-up, four and a half lengths behind unbeaten Faugheen. Yet trainer Ian Williams, who bought Ballyalton on the golfer's behalf at Brightwells' December Sale, held at Cheltenham in 2012, reckons the seven-year-old has a bigger future over fences.

Ballyalton was a well-beaten fourth on his previous run, but Williams said: "We had put a line through his last run on account of heavy ground, but this was a big improvement on anything he has done this season. Now I cannot wait to go chasing with him - that's what he is all about.

"He's been beaten by a very good horse today, but he had some good horses behind him. He loves this decent ground and so you will probably see a bit more of him this spring. Aintree is an obvious one, but we'll see.

"We bought him here [for £33,000] after he had won a point-to-point in Ireland. We liked him and he ticked all the boxes - he was a Christmas present who has worked out really well."

Previous results - NEPTUNE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT NOVICES’ HURDLE

2013-WINNER-THE NEW ONE 6-11-07 Owner-Sarah Such; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-7/2
2ND-Rule The World 5-11-07 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Mouse Morris IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP-5/1
3RD-Pont Alexandre 5-11-07 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-6/4 Fav
8 ran, Time-5m 16.60s; Dist-4, 4½

2012-WINNER-SIMONSIG 6-11-07 Owner-Ronnie Bartlett; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-2/1 Fav
2ND-Felix Yonger 6-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend; SP-16/1
3RD-Monksland 5-11-07 Owner-Patricia Hunt; Trainer Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-11/2
17 ran, Time-4m 59.34s; Dist-7, 11

2011-WINNER-FIRST LIEUTENANT 6-11-07 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Mouse Morris IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP- 7/1
2ND-Rock On Ruby 6-11-07 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Daryl Jacob; SP-13/2 3RD-So Young 5-11-07 Owner-Mrs M McMahon; Trainer Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-2/1 Fav
12 ran, Time-5m 10.50s; Dist-sh, 41⁄2

2010-WINNER-PEDDLERS CROSS 5-11-07 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-7/1
2ND-Reve De Sivola 5-11-07 Owner-Paul Duffy Diamond Partnership; Trainer-Nick Williams; Jockey-Daryl Jacob; SP-15/2
3RD-Rite Of Passage 6-11-07 Owner-Dr Ronan Lambe; Trainer-Dermot Weld IRE; Jockey-Mr Robbie McNamara; SP-7/2 Fav
17 ran, Time-5m 2.77s Dist-1½, 3¾

2009-WINNER-MIKAEL D'HAGUENET 5-11-07 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-5/2 Fav
2ND-Karabak 6-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-4/1
3RD-Diamond Harry 6-11-07 Owner-Paul Duffy Diamond Syndicate; Trainer-Nick Williams; Jockey-Timmy Murphy; SP-4/1
14 ran, Time-5m 17.10s Dist-1¾, 3¾

2008-WINNER-FIVEFORTHREE 6-11-07 Owner-Olde Crowbars Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-7/1
2ND-Venalmar 6-11-07 Owner-Michael O’Flynn; Trainer-Mouse Morris IRE; Jockey-Paddy Flood; SP-11/1
3RD-Trafford Lad 6-11-07 Owner-Butler Family Syndicate; Trainer-Eamon Sheehy IRE; Jockey-Tom Doyle; SP-9/1
15 ran, Time-5m 2.20s Dist-nk, 4; 4/1 Fav Aigle D’Or (13th)

2007-WINNER-MASSINI’S MAGUIRE 6-11-07 Owner-Alan Peterson; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-20/1
2ND-Tidal Bay 6-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-10/1
3RD-Catch Me 6-11-07 Owner-J P O’Shea; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
15 ran, Time-5m 5.40s; Dist: nk, 1½; 5/2 Fav Aran Concerto (5th)

2006-WINNER-NICANOR 5-11-07 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-17/2
2ND-Denman 6-11-07 Owner-Paul Barber & Maggie Findlay; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/10 Fav
3RD-Refinement 7-11-00 Owner-Michael Tabor; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-11/2
17 ran, Time-5m 1.00s Dist: 2½, 6

2005-WINNER-NO REFUGE 5-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-17/2
2ND-Racing Demon 5-11-07 Owner-Camilla Radford; Trainer-Henrietta Knight; Jockey-Jim Culloty; SP-14/1
3RD-Our Ben 6-11-07 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-33/1
20 ran, Time-5m 00.00s Dist: ¾, 2½ 9/2 Jt Favs Gold Medalist (5th) & Royal Paradise (7th)

2004-WINNER-FUNDAMENTALIST 6-11-07 Owner-Gripen; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Carl Llewellyn; SP-12/1
2ND-Inglis Drever 5-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-7/4 Fav
3RD-Grey Report 7-11-07 Owner-Anne La Trobe; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-25/1
15 ran, Time-5m 1.90s, Dist-.5, 4

2003-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 5-11-07 Owner-Laurence Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Kieran Kelly; SP-6/1
2ND-Pizarro 6-11-07 Owner-Edward Wallace; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-2/1 Fav
3RD-Lord Sam 7-11-07 Owner-Plain Peeps; Trainer-Victor Dartnall; Jockey-Warren Marston; SP-10/1
Coolnagorna, finished 2nd, placed last for causing interference 19 ran, Time-5m 5.70s, Dist (as they passed the post)-1¼, 1

2002-WINNER-GALILEO 6-11-07 Owner-Sharon Nelson, Allan Stennett, Terry Warner; Trainer-Tom George; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-12/1
2ND-Over The Bar 6-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-14/1
3RD-Lanzerac 5-11-07 Owner-Cleartherm Ltd; Trainer-John Harris; Jockey-Paul Flynn; SP-66/1
27 ran; Time-5m 19.70s, Dist-3½, sh; 5/1 Fav Classified (4th)

2001-Cancelled (Foot and Mouth Disease)

2000-WINNER-MONSIGNOR 6-11-07 Owner-Malcolm Denmark; Trainer-Mark Pitman; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/4 Fav
2ND-No Discount 6-11-06 Owner-Seamus Ross; Trainer-Charlie Swan IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-20/1
3RD-Gentle Rivage 6-11-07 Owner-Geoffrey and Donna Keeys; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; SP-50/1
14 ran, Time-4m 52.0s, Dist-8,5

1999-WINNER-BARTON 6-11-07 Owner-Stan Clarke; Trainer-Tim Easterby; Jockey-Lorcan Wyer, SP-2/1 Fav
2ND-Artadoin Lad 6-11-07 Owner-Jim Shaw; Trainer-Jenny Pitman; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-28/1
3RD-Winston Run 7-11-07 Owner-Mr & Mrs John Poynton; Trainer-Ian Williams; Jockey-Glenn Tormey; SP-100/1
18 ran, Time-5m 5.6s, Dist-9, ½

1998-WINNER-FRENCH HOLLY 7-11-07 Owner-Kieran Flood; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-2/1 Fav
2ND-Torboy 8-11-07 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-8/1
3RD-Cloone Bridge 6-11-07 Owner-Kathleen Gillane; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-8/1
18 ran, Time-4m 59.7s, Dist-14, 2½

1997-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 5-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-6/5 Fav
2ND-Mighty Moss 6-11-07 Owner-Ken Hutsby; Trainer-David Nicholson; Jockey-Mr Fred Hutsby; SP-11/1
3RD-Daraydan 5-11-07 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Richard Hughes; SP-16/1
17 ran, Time-4m 58.2s, Dist-1, ¾

Free Racing Tips