Fakiera flashes home late for Monksfield gains
Fakiera finished with a flourish to claim a last-gasp victory in the BetVictor Casino “Monksfield” Novice Hurdle at Navan
Gordon Elliott had saddled three of the last four winners of the Grade Three contest in Death Duty (2016), Samcro (2017) and Fury Road (2019), and this year fired a twin assault, with 4-1 shot Fakiera the apparent second string behind the previously unbeaten Farouk D’alene.
The latter, who was the even-money favourite, made much of the running under Jack Kennedy, but displayed a tendency to jump and hang to his right and ultimately weakened to finish fourth.
Fakiera had opened his hurdling account at the fourth attempt with a narrow success at Fairyhouse at the start of the month following three successive runner-up finishes.
He looked booked for a place at best between the final two flights, but powered home in the hands of Keith Donoghue to get up and beat Fire Attack by half a length.
Donoghue said: “He did it well. He travelled easy during the race and was probably doing a little bit too much.
“He relaxed coming out of the back straight and I wasn’t in a rush with him as I knew he’d come home well.
“Stamina is his thing and he did well to win over two miles last time. We always knew with a step up in trip that he would improve.”
The Willie Mullins-trained Blackbow made an impressive start to his career over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners’ Chase.
A high-class bumper performer, the seven-year-old failed to get his head in front in four hurdling starts last season, but jumped slickly on his chasing bow under David Mullins and passed the post just over four lengths clear of hot favourite Entoucas.
“He jumped very well. He got his own way in front and that helps a free horse,” said the winning jockey.
“He’s well able to jump and when he relaxes he just shows what he can do. He’s a classy horse when he puts it all together.”
Castra Vetera gave weight and a sound beating to her rivals in the Listed Coolmore N.H. Sires Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race.
Carrying a double penalty for previous bumper wins at Fairyhouse and Naas, Joseph O’Brien’s charge received a positive ride from Tom Hamilton and dug deep at the business end to repel the challenge of Party Central by almost four lengths.
O’Brien’s assistant, Brendan Powell, said: “Tom said there was going to be no pace and she stays well – she galloped them into the ground.
“She’s done a lot of schooling at home and jumps very well. I’d presume that will be the route she’ll take now and she could be good.”