Dreams of having a runner at the Cheltenham Festival could soon turn into reality for trainer Nick Littmoden after Fleur Irlandaise sprang a 100-1 surprise in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Kempton on Monday.
Well held on her British debut over fences at Fakenham last month, the four-year-old filly appeared much happier switched back to hurdles in the two-mile-five-furlong prize after defeating joint-favourite Morning Vicar by four lengths to form the first leg of a double for Jack Quinlan.
Littmoden said: “It was almost an insult that she was that price, but people are very unforgiving of a bad run and she just got frightened at Fakenham. She put her feet through the first and nearly went at the second.
“We didn’t lose faith in her. She has done everything unbelievable at home and I’ve been really happy with her. She came back safe from Fakenham and we schooled her over hurdles so we said let’s go hurdling.
“With a filly like her, it would be lovely to find a little fillies’ Listed race to go for. I think long term, we would be thinking of Cheltenham I hope.
“It would be a dream come to have a runner there. I’ve had some nice Flat winners. I’d only ever want to go to the Festival if I had something good enough and hopefully I have one now.”
Really Super left her previous efforts over fences behind her to complete Quinlan’s brace with a six-length verdict after making virtually all in the Weatherbys TBA Mares’ Handicap Chase.
Quinlan said of the Amy Murphy-trained 16-1 shot: “Her schooling at home has always been very good. At Worcester she completely failed to fire and at Hereford she never had her spark about her.
“Amy said to be more aggressive on her and make her mind up in the race and that has made a difference.”
Tom Lacey has bigger and better prizes in mind for Tea Clipper after the four-year-old defied a penalty for his last-time-out victory at Warwick to take the Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle by three and three-quarter lengths.
Lacey said of the 8-11 winner: “They went a better gallop today and he jumped a bit better.
“We will have to go up in grade now and maybe have a look at the Kennel Gate at Ascot or something similar. He is a big horse and he is only going to fill out.”
Boss Man Fred (9-1) showed plenty of heart to make a winning debut under rules after mastering recent Chepstow scorer Ofalltheginjoints by a short head in the Wise Betting At racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle.
Dan Skelton, trainer, speaking away from the track, said: “Boss Man Fred is a nice horse and he will make a chaser in time.
“We will go under a penalty in another small race first before considering stepping him up in class.”
Catch The Cuban (4-1) provided jockey Harry Kimber with his first winner at the track after taking full advantage of First Quest’s final flight fall to run out a three-and-a-quarter-length winner of the Like Racing TV On Facebook Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer, said: “It was a big allowance he was getting for a streetwise horse. I think he would have kept galloping to the line anyway, but that is racing and they have got to jump them to win.
“The horse has progressed no end since joining us. He is the right end of the handicap to have a bit of fun with.”