Thursday 26 April 2018

Salsify win has Fermoy family back in the hunt for Cheltenham honours

Pat Griffin

SALSIFY is back with a bang.

The winner of last year's Foxhunter's Chase at Cheltenham took a stunning victory in the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters chase at Leopardstown last weekend and is now being prepped for a return to the Cotswolds by trainer Roger Sweeney.

Salsify is owned by Sweeney's wife Joan and was ridden to brilliant effect by son Colman on Saturday, when winning the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters chase by a neck in a tremendous finish with his old adversary Tammy's Hill.

The victory left trainer Roger very satisfied with the horse's progress

''He is coming along nicely just now and is timing it just right. We will give him a week off now and freshen him up for Cheltenham next month. I expect him to come on another bit after this, as he is at the same stage now as he was last year."

Jockey Colman was also impressed: "We had him fit today but not freshened up. But we can do that now between here and Cheltenham. Our champion chaser has been beaten twice by Tammy's Hill, and it brought us down to earth a bit. I can't wait for next month."

Earlier available at 12/1 and 10/1, Salsify was cut immediately, and is now a rather generous looking 5/1 joint favourite with Chapoturgen for the Cheltenham hunters showpiece.

At Leopardstown he was held up as usual at the back of the field, and despite clipping heels and stumbling slightly at the seventh, began to make eye catching progress from the tenth into mid division, where some tremendous leaps took him into contention.

Racing into the straight with one to jump, he came under pressure and looked destined for the runner-up spot, but Colman had other ideas and knew what he had under him.

Cleverly switching his mount to the outside, he rallied strongly under a really powerful drive from the saddle to get up near the line for a tremendous neck win from Tammy's Hill.

Sweeney's strength in the saddle was the all important asset here between victory and defeat.