‘We’ve just run out of time’

 

“We’ve just run out of time”: Clan Des Obeaux will not run this season, but there is still an Aintree option for the Bravemansgame.

Clan Des Obeaux has been ruled out for the rest of the season by Paul Nicholls, but Britain’s champion trainer has said that Gold Cup second Bravemansgame could run at either Punchestown or Aintree.

Although Nicholls has a potential strong replacement for Clan Des Obeaux in Bravemansgame, the horse that has won the previous two Bowls at Aintree will not be ready in time to compete for a third victory in the Grade 1 next month.

The King George winner was brave in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, where he finished seven lengths behind Galopin Des Champs, who jumped the last in tandem with the winner.

Nicholls will not let the presence of Bravemansgame’s Cheltenham conqueror influence his decision if Punchestown is deemed a better fit for him, despite his desire to avoid a rematch with Galopin Des Champs this spring.

“Clan Des Obeaux won’t make it to Aintree; we’ve just run out of time,” said Nicholls. “He’s had a few warning lights flashing, so we’re going to leave him until next season, and now everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of ‘Bravemansgame is going to run now’. Bravemansgame has an option of that or Punchestown, either option is open to us.

“The most important thing is to make sure we’re happy with him wherever he runs, if we do run him again this season. If we could avoid Galopin Des Champs, anyone would wisely do that, especially on his home turf. You’d want to avoid getting into another scrap with him until next March, so that’ll come into our thinking, but we’ll make the best decision for our horse if we’re happy with him.”

Nicholls has won the Aintree Bowl a record six times with See More Business, What A Friend, Silviniaco Conti (two times), and Clan Des Obeaux (two times).

“Age has caught up a little with him and he’s had this very minor injury,” he added. “His suspensory boots have troubled us. We thought he’d get there and we were very happy with him, but by the end of the week we realised we weren’t going to make it. It’s frustrating as it’s a minor injury, but it doesn’t matter the extent, if we have a problem we have to be careful.”

Nicholls will delay any decisions regarding his 11-year-old horse until he has spoken with his owners and has not ruled out another bid for the elusive treble in the Bowl next year. Clan Des Obeaux has not competed since finishing second to Allaho in the Punchestown Gold Cup last season, which is the race that Bravemansgame may be targeting.

 

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Davy Russell’s first victory since his shocking return is “This is what it’s all about.”

Sunday: Punchestown

At Punchestown, Davy Russell spoke as he celebrated Sa Fureur’s first win since coming out of retirement, saying: “It feels great.”

Following Jack Kennedy’s fifth leg break at Naas on Sunday, Russell announced on Wednesday that he would return to race riding less than a month after retiring to assist trainer Gordon Elliott and his owners.

The jockey, who has won two Grand Nationals, had two unsuccessful rides on his first day back at Fairyhouse on Saturday. On his second mount, Sa Fureur, owned by Caldwell Construction, he won division two of the 2m maiden hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.

Elliott-trained Sa Fureur won by four and a half lengths at 3-1, improving on a previous second at Limerick. In his debut for Willie Mullins, the 5-4 favorite Bialystok placed third.

“It feels great,” said Russell. “Winning is what it’s all about so it’s great to be back in the winner’s enclosure.

“The crowd is what makes it, the supporters that are here. They clapped me all the way into the parade ring and it’s very nice. It’s a cold day but there’s some great racing on and the crowd appreciates it. If I’m giving joy to them, it makes it all worthwhile.”

At Thurles last month, Russell appeared to have been aboard Liberty Dance when he rode the last winner of his glittering career.

“You get a kick out of riding winners,” said the 43-year-old. “I had a bit of a blow way too early on him and I was kicking myself turning in. I was panicking a bit and might have to take a deep breath now the next time.

“He was good though, he stayed well down to the line. He’ll be a much nicer horse when he matures.”

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Paul Townend is impressed by the stylish Impaire Et Passe and says, “I think he’s very smart.”

Sunday: Punchestown, Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle

With an impressive performance in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, a Grade 2 race that Willie Mullins has used as a springboard for superstars like Vautour and Douvan, Impaire Et Passe made it two wins out of two over hurdles in Ireland.

The most important question is whether Impaire Et Passe will target the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore. Sky Bet has dropped him to 11-2 (from 8) for the Supreme and to 6-1 (from 9) for the Ballymore.

Paul Townend had the 1-3 favorite close to the pace throughout the race, which was mostly run steadily and very tactical. He took control in the straight to win going away by six and a half lengths from good yardstick The Model Kingdom.

The previously unbeaten mare Shecouldbeanything, who withdrew for the majority of the race before becoming sluggish from the second turn, was eight lengths behind.

Townend was pleased and impressed by the winner’s performance because it appears that she does not show much on the gallops.

“As I said after he won at Naas, he does not show us that at home, but he showed a good turn of foot today,” he said. “I was very happy with him. He jumped like a buck and the only hurdle he was slow at was the last.”

“It’s hard to know how good he is because he shows so little at home yet does it on the track. I think he’s very smart and he gave me a great feel today.”

“He jumped only four hurdles at Naas, but how he jumped there was very good and he didn’t miss a beat today apart from the last, which I wouldn’t worry about.”

Townend provided the following response when asked about the return to two miles after winning over two miles and three furlongs the previous time: “It was a worry and the ground was soft enough, but he showed pace out there. Wherever he goes I wouldn’t mind being on his back.”

David Casey, the assistant trainer, said: “He did it all right. Paul said he didn’t do a huge amount in front and he had loads in the tank. He was a bit sharper than he was at Naas and he is going in the right direction.”

“Jumping fences will be his forte. To come back in trip like he did was good as well, especially on the sharp inside track here, and he is still learning. He will have all the entries [for Cheltenham].”

The Model Kingdom, the runner-up, delighted her trainer Noel Meade because she had excellent form against mares going into this.

“I would say there is every chance she’ll go to Cheltenham for the mares’ novice, the owners are mad keen to go,” said Meade.

“I would say that was as good a run as she’s had. The tongue-tie helped but the ground helped too. I think the ground at Thurles last time was probably too quick for her.”

“We are very happy with that. I don’t know if she’ll get up the hill at Cheltenham, but there’s only one way to find out.”

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