Dee Capo takes charge for smart Leopardstown success

By Sports Desk March 03, 2024

Dee Capo has a trip to Fairyhouse or Aintree on his agenda after returning to winning ways at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Gordon Elliott’s charge won twice earlier in the season but had been off the track since being beaten a neck in a Navan Grade Three back in November.

Partnered by 5lb-claimer Danny Gilligan in the QuinnBet Hurdle, Dee Capo (3-1) travelled well throughout the extended two-and-a-quarter-mile affair, grabbing the lead from Ashdale Bob after jumping the last.

Gilligan just had to keep his mount up the task on the run to the line, prevailing by a length and three-quarters.

Elliott said: “He’s a nice horse and there is a lot of improvement in him from today.

“He’d had a couple of quick runs and we said we’d freshen him up and have him back for the spring.

“I’d imagine he’ll go to Fairyhouse or Aintree.

“He looks like a chaser.

“Danny gave him a good ride. Jack (Kennedy) is missing a few winners (due to a suspension) but that’s the way it goes. The horses are running well, which is important.”

Blizzard Of Oz defied his status as the perceived second string for Willie Mullins with a smart success in the Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Novice Hurdle.

Sent off a 6-4 chance in the hands of Danny Mullins, with the Paul Townend-ridden Captain Cody the 4-5 favourite, Blizzard Of Oz hit the front before the last and found plenty on the run to the line to win by two and a quarter lengths, with his stablemate only fourth.

Mullins said: “I think the shorter trip was a benefit and he jumped better than he did in Naas.

“The ground might not be riding as heavy as people anticipated, when I see Captain Cody being tapped for toe and that fella going easily at the second last.

“Captain Cody probably wants a longer trip.

“I’d imagine both horses will be aimed for the Final in Punchestown and they will probably have a run before that.”

Brideswell Lad was a shock 33-1 winner of the Listed QuinnBet Handicap Chase for trainer Seamus Neville and jockey Brian Hayes.

The eight-year-old was a winner at the beginning of September but then had a bit of a lay-off following a fall at the end of that month, returning with two average subsequent runs.

However, he was right back to his best in this valuable affair, responding well to pressure to repel all challengers up the home straight, coming home a length and three-quarters clear of Battle Of Mirbat.

Neville said: “He’d a very heavy fall in Listowel and it took him a long time to recover. We felt he was getting there of late.

“He would be ground dependent as well, so it’s not too heavy.

“He’ll probably go to Fairyhouse and Punchestown and we’ll keep him going for the summer.”

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    The seven-year-old did connections proud when ridden by the trainer’s son, Jack, to finish fourth at 40-1 in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

    From there he took aim at the Aintree staying prize and this time he was not so overlooked in the market when starting at odds of 15-2.

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    Buddy One was still a gallant second, however, and could now head to Punchestown to round off his season before he is aimed at a novice chasing campaign next year.

    “He came home 100 per cent from it, fresh and well, I’m over the moon with the run,” said Gilligan.

    “It’s a pity one had to pass us, but we’re delighted with him and he’s very, very well after it.

    “He’s run two massive races in Grade One company over hurdles and he’ll jump a fence, we’ll definitely go chasing with him next year.

    “It’s up in the air whether he’ll go to Punchestown with him, we possibly will, in fact I think we might, but we’ll see and the main thing to us is that he’s safe and sound.”

    Gilligan is hoping Buddy One’s exploits at the two biggest National Hunt meetings in England will do the trick when it comes to attracting new owners to his Galway stable.

    He said: “We had a great time in Cheltenham and Aintree and these horses are hard to come by, we’re just hoping next time we come to England somebody will say ‘will you take a horse or two for me!’.”

    Gilligan is father to Jack, who claims 7lb, and also Danny, who claims 5lb and rides predominantly for Gordon Elliott.

    Both jockeys were in demand throughout the Aintree meeting, with Danny partnering Elliott’s Chemical Energy in the Grand National.

    Gilligan said of his sons: “I have two lads riding on the big stage, Jack has been riding for us here and Danny is riding for Gordon and it’s a great old feeling.

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    Despite tasting success at Royal Ascot, the Punchestown Festival and now Aintree’s Grand National Festival, Kieswetter and the Barnane team are still searching for an elusive first success at the Cheltenham Festival.

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    Kieswetter continued: “The ground probably suited him and Aintree being flatter probably helped – he runs well at Leopardstown which we know. Hopefully with a bit more experience he can go back to Cheltenham and challenge again.

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    The eight-year-old was fairly well backed for the world’s most famous steeplechase, starting at 18-1 under Ben Harvey having finished second in both the Colin Parker at Carlisle and the Coral Gold Cup earlier in the term.

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