Barry Connell opts to run Foxrock in Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham

Foxrock will be supplemented for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after owner Barry Connell ruled out a tilt at the Gold Cup.

The Ted Walsh-trained seven-year-old ran a tremendous race to fill the runner-up spot in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month, prompting connections to think long and hard about adding him to the field for the blue riband on Friday week.

However, in a surprise decision, he will instead be added to Thursday’s two-mile-five-furlong Grade One at a cost of £15,000 (€20,700).

Connell feels it is the right call with the future in mind.

He said: “I’ve just been chatting to Ted about it and we’ve decided to supplement for the Ryanair.

“It’s not a race we’ve really been considering, but it makes sense for a couple of reasons. He’s still quite a young horse at the age of seven and going three and a quarter miles in a Gold Cup can leave a mark on a young horse like him.

“He’s proven over the Ryanair trip, he’s not a slow horse and it might be a good stepping stone for the Gold Cup in a year’s time. It will be a less gruelling race than the Gold Cup and it will give him a bit more experience of the track, which will hopefully stand to him if we’re lucky enough to be back there next year.

“Just looking for the ratings for the Ryanair I think Don Cossack might be the best of the Irish on 166, so we only have a couple of pounds to find with him.

“He’s well entitled to take his chance.”

Derek O’Connor will partner The Job Is Right in the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

O’Connor only recently went past the 1,000-winner mark in the point-to-point sphere and is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest ever amateur riders.

The Job Is Right showed his quality when fourth in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and would have finished a clear second to Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Djakadam in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January but for tipping up at the final fence.

Meanwhile, Andrew Thornton is free to ride at Cheltenham after having a six-day ban reduced to three days following an appeal.

The rider was suspended after weighing in 2lb heavy than weighing out on third-placed Saucysioux in a bumper at Plumpton on February 23.

Having heard evidence from the British Horseracing Authority and Thornton, the disciplinary panel noted that it was was the rider’s responsibility to make himself aware of his weight going out.

In light of that fact, the panel ruled the local stewards had acted correctly in not exercising discretion available to them under the rules, in what was Thornton’s second offence of a similar nature in the last 12 months.

However, the panel considered the facts were different to the previous case and accepted that Thornton had returned to the scales covered in mud.

As a result, the panel quashed the six-day suspension, instead ruling three days was appropriate, meaning Thornton will sit out March 9, 14 and 15.


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