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Commander Of Fleet takes Dublin Racing Festival opener

Commander Of Fleet takes Dublin Racing Festival opener


Commander Of Fleet picked up his second big pot within just 11 months of winning his four-year-old maiden point-to-point when he dug deep to run out a battling winner of the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race of the Dublin Racing Festival.
 
The Fame And Glory gelding who had returned in isolation in his maiden point at Moig South last March when under the care of Pat Doyle, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding then went on to claim the valuable Goffs Land Rover Bumper under champion point-to-point rider Barry O’Neill at that season’s Punchestown Festival.
 
A leading contender for the Royal bond, on what was his first outing in Grade 1 company at Fairyhouse in December, Commander Of Fleet could only manage fourth over the minimum trip, however the step up in trip for Saturday’s assignment in the €125,000 brought out the best in the €47,000 Land Rover purchase. 
 
A drifter on course in the minutes before the off ahead of just his third start over hurdles, Jack Kennedy positioned him towards the rear of mid-division for much of the race before he began to make his move in the latter stages of the 2m 6f contest, arriving on the scene at what became the final flight before the home bend.
 
With the usual last bypassed due to the low-lying sun, it was Rhinestone and Mark Walsh that provided a stiff test, but the point-to-point graduate stuck his head down and picked up to win by half-a-length.
 
“We knew going up in trip would really suit him. Jack (Kennedy) said he was very green and was running around all over the place, but he is a lovely horse for the future,” reported Elliott.
 
Eddie O’Leary also indicated that the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle would be his likely intended target for the Cheltenham Festival, a Grade 1 race that he is now the 8/1 favourite for in a market dominated by fellow point-to-point graduates, including Birchdale, Battleoverdoyen and Dickie River.
 

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