13 February 2024

Zanahiyr battles to first chase success

13 February 2024

Champion Hurdle third Zanahiyr opened his account over fences at the second attempt when coming out on top in a thrilling duel with Aspire Tower in the Horse & Jockey Beginners Chase at Thurles.

It looked a competitive event on paper with Willie Mullins fielding Feu Du Bresil and Figaroc, Noel Meade sending Pinkerton and Cian Collins’ Mighty Tom lining up, but only two were ever involved.

Rachael Blackmore bounced out on Aspire Tower but Jack Kennedy was keen not to let her get too far ahead of Zanahiyr.

Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old came up just short of the very best over hurdles and had the misfortune of bumping into the highly-regarded Fact To File on his chasing debut.

He was not as fluent as he could have been on that occasion but he jumped with much more finesse here, although Aspire Tower did appear to be travelling better approaching the last.

Zanahiyr (7-4 favourite) had got within three and a half lengths of Constitution Hill over two and a half miles at Aintree, though, and his stamina came to the fore as he won by half a length.

“It was a good performance and I suppose he was really only getting going (at the finish). He is a good age now and gets further than two miles, so I’m delighted that he got his head in front,” said Kennedy.

“I was keen to be forward and wasn’t concerned about the distance, although in the race I thought Rachael was quickening away from me. He knuckled down though and dug in.

“He can step up in distance but is also OK over a strongly-run two miles so there are plenty of options.”

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