Richard Fahey just failed to better retired trainer Richard Hannon senior’s record of 235 winners in a calendar year when his final runner of the year in the last race of 2015 finished second.
Billy Bond, ridden by 3lb claimer Sammy Jo Bell – who has enjoyed a fine year herself – had to settle for the runner-up spot behind Bold Prediction, beaten three lengths, in the Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap at Lingfield.
Fahey tweeted: “Wasn’t meant to be, very happy just to have got to 235.
“Massive thank you to everyone at Musley Bank. Happy New Year.
“We’ll do it next year.”
His two other runners on the card also performed creditably, with Ixelles Diamond finishing second and Dose fourth.
The Malton trainer had equalled Hannon’s best with a double through Gabrial The Hero and Luis Vaz De Torres at the same course on Monday.
The chestnut is to be readied for a shot at the two-mile-one-furlong contest on January 23 which he claimed in 2014 before going on to land the Queen Mother Champion Chase at that year’s Cheltenham Festival.
After landing the Tingle Creek at Sandown on his penultimate start, Sire De Grugy was denied a follow-up success in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Sunday when just touched off by Sprinter Sacre.
He said: “All things being equal, Sire De Grugy will go for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot.
“Going to the last at Kempton the other day I thought he might win if he jumped it well, but it didn’t quite happen.
“He has come out of that race great and I’ve got the best part of a month to get him ready for Ascot, so it’s all systems go.”
The winner of a point-to-point and two bumpers, the son of Presenting made an impressive start to his career over hurdles at Punchestown at the start of December and is set to go off favourite for this weekend’s Grade One feature.
The champion trainer will be doubly represented in the 32Red.com Mares’ Hurdle on the same card, with Gitane Du Berlais and Petite Parisienne joining Yorkhill on the trip across the Irish Sea.
Mullins said: “Yorkhill, Gitane De Berlais and Petite Parisienne will all run at Sandown, with Ruby (Walsh) riding two of them and Bryan (Cooper) on Petite Parisienne.”
The Paul Nicholls-trained Le Prezien, a comprehensive winner at Ludlow, will not take up his Tolworth engagement.
Anthony Bromley, who manages the owning Million In Mind Partnership, said: “He’s not going to run. Willie Mullins is bringing his horse over and it looks a very hot race.
“I think we’ll take our horse to Doncaster next Friday instead and run in an easier race under a penalty.”
He will return to Prestbury Park for the first time since triumphing in the World Hurdle in March but met with defeat on his seasonal return in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.
Greatrex said: “The heavy ground is not ideal, but as the race is over two and a half miles it’s not going to take him to the extreme. He does cope with soft ground but it doesn’t really suit his way of running.
“We’ve gone for this race over the Cleeve purely for the fact that at this time year we don’t want to be running him over three miles on that ground all the time – we want to leave plenty of petrol in the tank for when he is at his best in the spring.
“He is a very hard horse to get fit and we did everything we could with him going into Newbury, he was probably just a little less fit than we thought he was.
“Compared to last year’s run in that race, when he finished very tired, he actually run on again and the way he finished really pleased me.
“Although I would be much happier if the ground was not as soft, he has come out of that race very well and he looks great.
“He is in a much better form than this time last year.”
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