Flanagan sweet on Rashaan
Horses like Rashaan are what the jumping game is all about and jockey Sean Flanagan is excited ahead of Colin Kidd's six-year-old tilt at Thursday's Grade Two Clonmel Oil Chase.
Carlow trainer Kidd only has a handful in his care and stable star Rashaan - a 12-time winner including a Grade Two hurdle - has taken to fences like a duck to water with a Grade Three victory at the Galway Festival already to his name.
Having schooled him last week, Flanagan liked what he saw and the Wexford jockey is looking forward to renewing a successful partnership for the 14th time in the Clonmel feature before a tilt at next month's Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
"He's a funny old horse, if he likes a track he excels there and he's won two Flat races in Clonmel and he's won three in Down Royal, so when he takes to a course he excels," he said.
"He's a horse with a massive chance. He won a graded race in Galway and it was softish ground, he doesn't handle really soft but a nice little dig in the ground just slows everything down a little bit for him.
"I think he can reach the heights he did over hurdles going over fences, he's a super jumper of a fence and an athletic type of a horse."
At Thurles yesterday, Rachael Blackmore moved to within three winners (53) of championship leader Paul Townend (56) thanks to a quickfire double. The Tipp rider teamed up with John 'Shark' Hanlon for both as she followed up her success on 8/11 favourite Mighty Stowaway in the opener with victory aboard Whatsinthecorner (5/2)in the Thurles Handicap Chase.
Attention turns to Cheltenham's November meeting on Friday but it has lost one of its biggest stars with Nicky Henderson ruling superstar chaser Altior out of Sunday's Shloer Chase. Stablemate Brain Power takes his place with the champion two-mile chaser instead heading straight for Sandown's Tingle Creek next month.
"Altior is in terrific form but it's only three weeks before the Tingle Creek and he doesn't really need a race. He's ready to run and I could run him, but there's a long way ahead of us," Henderson said yesterday.
Coneygree, the 2015 Gold Cup hero, will make a belated return to the Cotswolds, however, with Mark Bradstock's 11-year-old overcoming nagging injury problems to tackle Saturday's 3m3f Handicap Chase.
Elsewhere, the prize-money for Leopardstown's Christmas meeting has been boosted by 12pc with more than €1.4 million up for grabs this year.
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