Fahy keen to aim Gunnery at Festival
Pat Fahy is hoping Mount Gunnery will make the cut for the Festival Novices' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham after yesterday's cosy success at Clonmel.
The 11/10 favourite made it third-time lucky over fences under David Mullins as he landed the Kilsheelan Beginners Chase, having finished second and third on his first two runs.
Fahy is now looking towards the two-and-a-half-mile Listed event on the opening day of the Festival, although Mount Gunnery also holds an entry in the JLT Novices' Chase.
"That was great and I'm delighted with him," said Fahy. "Conditions suited but he needed to win today as I'm thinking about running him in the 0-140 handicap chase at Cheltenham. He'll be entered and if he gets in, I wouldn't mind going over with him."
This was the first leg of a 15/1 double for the Co Carlow handler as his Head Turner (13/2) later sluiced up in the Qualified Riders Handicap Hurdle in the capable hands of Katie Walsh.
Held up in rear during the early stages, the five-year-old made stealthy progress on the long run to the second last flight before sweeping into the lead on jumping that hurdle. Walsh's mount then galloped 16 lengths clear of runner-up Orah Hall at the line.
There was also a double on the day for the in-form trainer-jockey team of Gordon Elliot and Bryan Cooper. Mind you, the second leg of their double was laced with a dollop of good fortune as Altiepix took the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase after a dramatic turn of events up the home straight.
Cooper set out to make all the running on the 11/4 favourite, but the partnership was headed by both Killeena House and Tipped Up Harry approaching the second-last fence.
But the picture changed quickly as Tipped Up Harry blundered badly and parted company with Robbie Power. Altiepix was soon back in front as Killeena House weakened alarmingly on the testing ground and came to a virtual standstill. Elliott's charge was none too fluent either, but kept galloping to beat King Blue by 20 lengths.
The first leg of the brace proved much more straightforward as De Plotting Shed took the Demesne Maiden Hurdle as a 1/5 favourite should. The market leader took over from the front-running Get Out Of Jail at the third-last and strolled clear to win by 47 lengths from runner-up Crown Hill.
The other maiden hurdle saw a gamble landed by the Charles Byrnes-trained Alto Esqua (4/6 favourite) which justified strong support to record a six-length win from Double Scores in the hands of Davy Russell.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh took the opening Munster Hurdle with Urano (7/1) which benefited from the final-flight departures of Don't Tell No One fell and Nine Stiches to come home 16 lengths clear of Aurora Bell.