Coolanly finally delivered on his promise when staying on stoutly to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham to give Paddy Brennan a treble on the opening day of the November Meeting.
Highly tried by Fergal O’Brien last season, the six-year-old only had a bumper win to his name prior to taking part in the Grade Two contest, which has an illustrious roll of honour.
The likes of Diamond Harry and Gold Cup winner Coneygree are among the recent winners, and another decent field was assembled.
Brennan had already been successful on Bun Doran and in the only previous hurdle race on the card, aboard Red Hot Chilly, and he adopted the same tactics again, taking the wide route, which again served him well.
Nicky Henderson’s Pym led him into the straight, but Coolanly (7-2) jumped the last cleaner and powered up the hill to win by three and a quarter lengths.
Eric McNamara’s Irish raider Percy Veer, conceding 5lb to all the other runners, ran a fine race by staying on into third, two lengths behind Pym.
Brennan said: “It was good to win today, as it was a big disappointment in the Persian War at Chepstow when we really fancied him and I fell off at the second.
“At this stage of his career he’s in the right hands and the Challow Hurdle at Newbury could be the race for him – he’s good enough for something like that.
“I only live over the road – any day you ride a winner here is great, so to ride three…it’s what it’s all about.”
O’Brien said: “We’ve always liked the horse, although when we went to buy him I didn’t want him and it was Sally (O’Brien, wife) who persuaded me to get him.
“He wasn’t easy after the Persian War, as he was a bit battered and bruised. It’s taken a bit of time, so it’s credit to everyone at home.
“He was favourite for the Persian War, which shows how much we thought of him.
“Paddy said he’d take his time and not rush, as we ran him at the Festival and he was a bit free and fresh, but his form early on was rock solid.”
He added: “Aye Aye Charlie could go for the Challow, but now he is right in the picture as well and a lot of the same owners are involved, though I’d not run him (Coolanly) in a bog.”