Fox out to rock Hennessy rivals

Owner Barry Connell believes Foxrock will not be out of place in tomorrow’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

Fox out to rock Hennessy rivals

Owner Barry Connell believes Foxrock will not be out of place in tomorrow’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

Local man Connell has pumped plenty of money into the game but it is all worthwhile for him when he has a live chance in one of the biggest races of the season.

On a top-class card, Connell also runs one of his other favourites, The Tullow Tank, in the Flogas Novice Chase.

The Ted Walsh-trained Foxrock, however, has already provided Connell with several big days, winning a couple of Grade Twos as a novice chaser and picking up the valuable BoyleSports Chase last time out.

That victory forced him out of handicap company and Connell believes he has every right to be taking on the best chasers in Ireland.

“He’s a young, progressive horse going there in good form,” said Connell.

“He wasn’t that far behind Carlingford Lough last year in a Grade One.

“He was only six then and Carlingford Lough had far more experience, he’d already won at Galway.

“Now he’s seven, he’s got the experience of big handicaps behind him and he’s going the right way.

“Obviously it’s another step up again but he’s in great nick.

“I’m hoping he runs well, he obviously likes the track and he jumps well.

“The fact he’s only 5-1 tells you how open the race is.”

A horse at the other end of the spectrum is Mouse Morris’ stalwart First Lieutenant, who finished third in the race last year and counts three Grade One triumphs on his CV.

The 10-year-old has not been at his best this season, disappointing on his return at Down Royal in November before finishing sixth in the Lexus Chase over the Christmas period.

“The Lexus was a step back in the right direction, he ran a good race until the last,” said Morris.

“I can’t for the life of me work out what went wrong at Down Royal, he just didn’t show up.

“We’re all allowed an off day. It was probably the first really bad race he’s ever run, and we’re all getting older, of course.”

Also in the field is Jim Culloty’s Lord Windermere, a dramatic winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March.

He ran an encouraging race first time back in the John Durkan but was never involved when seventh in the Lexus.

However, jockey Davy Russell expects the better ground to be more to his liking this time.

“Hopefully he’ll improve from the Lexus,” said Russell.

“The ground should be beautiful there, it’s been a dry week, and that should be in his favour.”

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