Allaho Completes Festival Preparation Successfully

Allaho completed his Cheltenham preparation with a smooth success in the Grade Two Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase in a busy Thurles on Sunday. Easily factoring in his three rivals, led by Fakir D’oudairies, he was winning back-to-back victories in the race, and relations hope he can do the same in the Ryanair Chase.

There’s little to fault a 12-length win in a sophomore pursuit by a two-time freshman winner, but trainer Willie Mullins felt there was room for improvement in the imposing eight-year-old.

“The horse wasn’t as positive as I would have liked him to be over the first two hurdles, but I think maybe it was him that was rusty,” Mullins said. “Maybe he needed company, but he just didn’t get down and jump like I expected.

“He didn’t jump really well until fourth or fifth, and Paul said he was just warming up going down the straight the last time. He flew last and he was flying at the finish. We were very happy with him at home, and that’s it until March.

Ballyshannon Rose, trained by Paul Fahey, showed her determination to match her ability by winning the Novice Chase of Grade Two Coolmore NH Sires Mogul Irish EBF Mares.

A rookie chase winner on her debut on the fences, she took what looked like a bad fall at Punchestown on her second start but is clearly tough and bounced back immediately.

Extremely well handled by Fahey, and ridden on this occasion by Jack Kennedy, she was never far from the rhythm and as the competition progressed, she found plenty of it. Jeremys Flame pushed her all the way and came back over the line, but there was no way to reach Ballyshannon Rose, who craned her neck to fend off this rival.

“I was on the track and I thought she was beaten, but I got a phone call to say she won, and it was the best phone call I’ve had in a long time,” said Fahey said.

“She came here for a beginner (pursuit) and she won it well. We crashed at Punchestown and she had had a really good run so far. We were going to Limerick over Christmas but she had an infection so we had to miss that.

“Then when we saw that race – and we were more excited when we saw Concertista not lining up – we had a chance, and it’s a great race to win. There were three mares in a line down to the last – it was a real race.

Fahey, who works as a farrier, added: “We work for Willie Mullins and Jessica Harrington – we have a great team working for us – and that (horse training) is only part-time. I ride her in the morning, and a few guys in my age group ride two horses every morning.

“It’s great to have a rider in a race like this and know that if everything goes well you’re going to be competitive, which isn’t easy in the world we live in right now. She’s a €3,000 filly, and when you’re able to compete with that, there’s room for everyone in this game.

“I said from the first day she jumped a fence here that her plan was always the Irish Grand National and I haven’t changed since. Most likely she will have another race before that, in Limerick.

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