Bobby Zen

Peter Molony, racing manager to Kenny Alexander, says he cannot split the powerful owner’s Jade De Grugy (Fr), Kargese (Fr) and previous Cheltenham Festival scorer Telmesomethinggirl (Ire) when it comes to picking the operation’s best chance of a winner at Prestbury Park next week. 

The Rathmore Stud boss also provided a passionate riposte to some of the criticism being levelled at the mares’ races at the Cheltenham Festival by stating that their horse of a lifetime Honeysuckle (GB) may never have seen a racetrack had it not been for the opportunities presented to mares through the heightened programme in recent years.

Following the high-profile defection of Constitution Hill (GB) in this year’s Champion Hurdle, Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci have come under pressure to run last year’s Triumph Hurdle scorer Lossiemouth (Fr), as short as 1-2 for the Mares’ Hurdle, in the day one showpiece. 

It’s a situation Molony can relate to as similar pressure was being heaped on trainer Henry de Bromhead and Alexander to run the reigning Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle against the boys in the build-up to last year’s festival despite the fact she clearly wasn’t operating at her brilliant best throughout the campaign. 

In the end, Honeysuckle bypassed the Champion Hurdle in favour of the Mares’ Hurdle, and delivered one of the standout performances of the meeting when bowing out with a hard-fought victory over Love Envoi (Ire). 

While Molony agrees that change is needed in order to drive competition at the Cheltenham Festival, he says the three mares’ races–the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, Mares’ Hurdle and Mares’ Chase–are hugely important lures for people to buy and race mares.

He said, “The mares’ races have been under attack recently but, what people don’t seem to realise is that none of these mares would be in training at all if it wasn’t for these mares’ races. Honeysuckle, Annie Power (Fr), Quevega (Ire)–none of those mares would have been kept in training if it wasn’t for the mares’ races. Before these races came about, there was zero trade for National Hunt fillies. Zero. That’s what people don’t seem to realise.

“For me, we need to step back and appreciate how these mares’ races are enhancing the game. I don’t understand the criticism levelled at these races. Now, I do agree that changes need to be made at Cheltenham, but I am firmly of the belief that these mares’ races are adding to the programme and that they are not part of the problem. In actual fact, they are part of the solution.”

Molony added, “One pundit, I can’t even remember who it was, described the Mares’ Hurdle as the worst race at the Cheltenham Festival. Whoever he was, he clearly wasn’t watching last year’s edition. These races add a huge amount of colour. Okay, last year’s race was run in exceptional circumstances and there was huge emotion surrounding the whole thing. However, according to most people who were there and a lot of people watching it on television, it was one of their most amazing experiences in racing when Honeysuckle won.”

The Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle is shaping up to be one of the races of next week. Gordon Elliott has gone on the record in saying that Brighterdaysahead (Fr) compares favourably with anything he has ever trained before. While Molony is full of respect for Brighterdaysahead, he is also confident that Jade De Grugy can give a good account. 

He said, “Great friends of mine, the Bleahens, sold Brighterdaysahead so I have known about her for a long time. She was the most beautiful three-year-old and she has a serious pedigree. She’s clearly a very good racemare and we have lots of respect for her.”

Molony added, “Our lady has done everything very easily, though. When Brian Hayes got off her at Fairyhouse, he said he thought he was in loads of trouble at one point in the race, because he thought he wasn’t going fast enough. As it transpired, she was just going so easy and he said he’d never sat on anything like her before. Willie seems to be quite bullish about Jade De Grugy so we will find out who is the best mare on the day.”

Alexander will be doubly-represented in the Mares’ Hurdle with Gala Marceau (Fr) and Tellmesomethinggirl. Molony says that he is quietly confident that the latter can out-run her general odds of 20-1. 

He explained, “I think the two-and-a-half miles will really play to Gala Marceau’s strengths. She was very disappointing the last day but Willie seems pretty confident that that was just a blip. We’re actually quietly confident about Telmesomethinggirl. We know she loves the place-she won the Mares’ Novice very impressively three years ago and she was running a huge race in the Mares’ Hurdle itself two years ago before she got brought down. 

“Rachael [Blackmore] came in afterwards and was absolutely sick–she thought she was going to win. At her best, I think she’d give everything in the race something to think about. We had a waste of a year over fences last year with her. She didn’t really take to it. Henry seems to be confident that she’s coming right back to her best so we’re quite hopeful.”

Alexander will take on another short-priced favourite on Friday when Kargese bids to get the better of the hugely impressive Sir Gino (Fr) in the Triumph. Kargese, a Grade 1 winner at the Dublin Racing Festival, is said to be improving with racing, and Molony gives the filly a big chance getting weight from the opposite sex.

Molony said, “Everywhere we look, we seem to be running against a monster. Telmesomethinggirl has Lossiemouth to contend with, Jade De Grugy has Brighterdaysahead and now Kargese has Sir Gino to worry about in the Triumph. She is a beautiful-looking mare. The first day she ran for us, she just didn’t settle at all and did remarkably well to finish second. Then she went and won the Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival where she settled much better. If she settles in the Triumph, she’ll run a big race getting weight from the geldings.”

On the rest of their festival squad, he added, “We’d love Doddiethegreat (Ire) to run well and win some money for the Doddie [Weir] foundation. He’ll be declared for the Coral Cup and, if he gets in, he’ll run. If he doesn’t, he’ll go for the Martin Pipe but we’re hoping he gets into the Coral Cup. 

“We also have Miss Manzor (GB) in the Boodles. We like her a lot and she ran a blinder at Christmas. She must have a little bit of a squeak.”

Asked to nominate Alexander’s best chance of the week, Molony said, “Tellmesomethinggirl, Jade De Grugy and Kargese all have great chances but they’re all running up against monsters. If one of them happened to win, we’d be delighted.”

Meanwhile, four-time Festival winner and dual Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle is due her first foal by Walk In The Park (Ire) in the coming weeks. 

Providing an update on the legendary racemare, Molony concluded, “Honeysuckle is still in Scotland. Kenny was very keen that she foaled over there and it’s all good so far, touch wood. She is due in about three weeks’ time now. Kerry, who looks after her so well over there, is under strict instruction to call me whenever she foals–I don’t care if it’s two o’clock in the morning! 

“Fingers crossed, everything will go well and we will have a healthy foal. Everything going well, she will come back to us when the foal is about three weeks old and we will be visiting Blue Bresil (Fr) this year.”

The post ‘We’re Up Against Monsters’ – Molony On Kenny Alexander’s Cheltenham Squad appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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