Trainer Peter Fahey has big plans for The Big Dog as the nine-year-old returns to Punchestown on Sunday looking for back-to-back successes in the Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial. A field of 13 runners go to post for Sunday's €90,000 feature on what is a fascinating day of racing at the Kildare venue.
The Big Dog had a luckless trip to the Welsh National at Chepstow when he had to be pulled up after a blunder at the ninth fence saw Johnny Burke lose his irons and forced him to pull up but Fahey believes that The Big Dog has improved since his Punchestown success 12-months ago and is still eyeing a potential tilt at the most famous race of all, the English Grand National at Aintree.
“That was his first run in a handicap when he won this race last year and he’s come on since then," Fahey said on Friday morning. "We haven’t had the rub of the green with him since; we were sitting for Chepstow but everything seems to be going right with him and he seems in good form. “I suppose the biggest plus from Chepstow was that it happened so early in the race and he came home a very fresh horse. He didn’t have a hard race.”
Elite amateur rider Jamie Codd renews his association with The Big Dog this weekend and gave Fahey the right vibes in midweek. “It was unfortunate what happened over in Chepstow but he’s come out of the race fine and he’s working away well. Jamie Codd sat up on him on Tuesday morning and was delighted with him. We’re looking forward to running him,” Fahey continued. “We always knew when we stepped him up into handicap company, where he’s better in a bigger field, it would be better for him. He was running around in beginner’s chases with small fields and running big races in them (including finishing a close third to subsequent Thyestes Chase and Troytown Chase winners Longhouse Poet and Run Wild Fred also at Punchestown) but we always knew he’s a better horse in a big field. “If he runs a big race, we’d be definitely considering going to Aintree. Hopefully we’ll get the rub of the green this time and put in the type of performance we think he’s capable of.”
The Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial is headed on ratings by the Gordon Elliott-trained Coko Beach who is one of four runners for the trainer. Floueur, Death Duty and Torygraph complete his team for the race, while Gavin Cromwell has two interesting contenders in Alfa Mix and Jimmil. Stones And Roses represents champion trainer Willie Mullins and Charles Byrnes has booked Liam Quinlan to take a 5lbs allowance off Doctor Duffy.
Elsewhere on Sunday's card, Cheltenham Festival clues could be on offer in the Hollywoodbets Rated Novice Chase as the Willie Mullins-trained Ciel De Neige chases a hat-trick against the likes of Dancing On My Own, You Raised Me Up and Poseidon.
The INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle looks an intriguing contest with the highly touted Largy Debut bidding to bounce back from a disappointing outing at Leopardstown over Christmas. He'll meet the Willie Mullins-trained Deploy The Getaway and the highly impressive course and distance winner Supreme Jet.
Racing on Sunday begins with the Hollywoodbets PP Hogan Cross Country Chase over Punchestown's famous banks course and some old favourites like Call It Magic, Alpha Des Obeaux and Ballyboker Bridge will line up here.
Hollywoodbets is thrilled to enjoy the golden opportunity of reinvesting in the Irish racing community on the occasion of the purple brand’s 2nd birthday.
We are celebrating the milestone by promoting the Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial at Punchestown on Sunday 13 February. Hollywoodbets is offering a promotion aligned to the Hollywoodbets Grand National trial. Place a win bet with a minimum stake of £/€10 on the Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial at Punchestown and stand a chance to win a share of £/€10,000 if your selection wins and then goes on to win either the English or Irish Grand National.
Hollywoodbets’ Andrew Halligan said that this incentive is a massive boost for Irish Racing punters and creates a great hype over the period from 13th February to 18thApril.
“We are excited to get behind the Irish racing punters! Please look out for the Hollywoodbets activation team, who will be on course at Punchestown on Sunday” Halligan said.
Log onto www.hollywoodbets.ie for all your betting opportunities.
First Race: 1.40pm & seven races on the card.
Admission: €15 & €10 OAP's/Student's
Don't Forget: Last Chance to SAVE 15% on Festival 2022 tickets, offer ends midnight Sunday 13 Feb. Book Here