yes­ter­day’s hero

Gra­ham Bud­dry looks back on the Chel­tenham hero­ics of the front-run­ning Dublin Flyer

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Gra­ham Bud­dry looks back at Dublin Flyer

To older Na­tional Hunt fans the first ma­jor race of the sea­son will al­ways be the Mack­e­son in the same way other top hand­i­caps will be the Hen­nessy and the Whit­bread no mat­ter who is spon­sor­ing them and what they are now called.

Chel­tenham stage two big early sea­son hand­i­caps, both around 2½ miles, first on the Old course in the mid­dle of No­vem­ber and the se­cond on the New course four weeks later.

Mack­e­son were the first spon­sors of the race back in 1960 and kept their in­ter­est go­ing un­til the 1995 re­newal. Since then four other spon­sors have given their name to the race. By con­trast, the twin race was orig­i­nally the Massey Fer­gu­son from its in­cep­tion in 1963 un­til 1980. Since then it has held a whole plethora of names, few of which are eas­ily re­mem­bered. Al­though both these races are roughly the same dis­tance and both are held at Chel­tenham, that is where the sim­i­lar­ity ends. The Old course and the New one are vastly dif­fer­ent so it takes a spe­cial horse to put his name on both rolls of hon­our and there have been few bet­ter, or more pop­u­lar, than Dublin Flyer.

Trained by Cap­tain Tim Forster, he started his rac­ing ca­reer on 13 No­vem­ber 1991 and ended his novice hur­dle sea­son with a brace of low grade wins.

The fol­low­ing sea­son he was never out of the first four, win­ning twice, as he plied his trade over the big­ger ob­sta­cles with in­creas­ing suc­cess. Five more races re­sulted in two vic­to­ries and three placed ef­forts be­fore a first trip to Chel­tenham for the 1994 Mild­may of Flete at the Fes­ti­val.

In a field of 18 Dublin Flyer was not able to dom­i­nate in the man­ner as­so­ci­ated with him later in his ca­reer but was al­ways in the van. Tak­ing the lead at the tenth un­til four out and still go­ing strongly in se­cond place ap­proach­ing the last the leader, El­fast, jumped right across him be­fore swing­ing wildly back the other way. In a des­per­ate fin­ish Dublin Flyer had to set­tle for the run­ner up berth, just un­able to peg El­fast back in the clos­ing stages.

Af­ter a sum­mer at grass it was then all sys­tems go for a new sea­son with the Tripleprint Gold Cup in De­cem­ber as the prime tar­get. With a 25 length de­mo­li­tion be­hind him on his first run of the sea­son, it was lit­tle sur­prise that Dublin Flyer was sent off se­cond favourite be­hind the tal­ented Coul­ton, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the mighty pres­ence of for­mer Cham­pion Chaser Kata­batic push­ing over half the field down to near min­i­mum or ac­tu­ally out of the weights.

From the start Coul­ton and Dublin Flyer set off at a ter­rific pace, quickly open­ing a lead of 15 lengths and more on the rest. Rac­ing head to head the big two thun­dered on, Coul­ton al­ways just inches ahead un­til Dublin Flyer out-jumped his op­po­nent at the wa­ter. Coul­ton was only half a length down but he would never get back on terms, fi­nally con­ced­ing de­feat as he ploughed through the twelfth fence.

Southolt had now come out of the pack some half a dozen lengths adrift try­ing hard to close as they raced down the hill to­wards the home straight. Nuaffe also en­tered the equa­tion hav­ing raced to­wards the rear for a long way. Bren­dan Powell looked over his shoul­der as they turned in, see­ing his near­est pur­suers hard at work as he started to nudge Dublin Flyer into the se­cond last.

Nuaffe lay fifth go­ing into the fence but was a fast fin­ish­ing third go­ing away from it while Southolt threw every­thing he had at the leader. Fi­nal fence and Dublin Flyer jumped two lengths clear of Southolt, who looked held, but Nuaffe was now just a length fur­ther away and clos­ing fast. Up the run-in Southolt veered left onto the rails and started to close, Dublin Flyer wasn’t stop­ping but couldn’t go any faster and Nuaffe was fly­ing through be­tween the pair with such mo­men­tum he took the lead with barely 50 yards to run; the race was surely his. Dublin Flyer then showed why he was

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