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Press Release 15th March 2023 Cheltenham

Jockey Darragh O’Keeffe enjoyed a first Festival win when partnering Maskada to success in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

Henry de Bromhead, the winning trainer of Maskada (22-1), said: “She was really good and Darragh (O'Keeffe) gave her a super ride. I’m delighted for him as it’s his first winner here, which is brilliant. I’m delighted for the Mariga family as they’re great supporters of ours, we had a lovely winner for them on Saturday (with Lantry Lady at Gowran Park) and now another today so it’s great.

“We bought her some way through the season last year, just before Punchestown. She had a nice run at Punchestown and she looked ideal for the owners as they have some very good brood mares. She had really good form and I don’t think we’ve done a whole lot more with her, she’s great and I’m delighted.”

Darragh O’Keefe, the winning jockey, said: “It’s an amazing place, and to come over with a few rides is a great privilege. I was just touched off last year in the Coral Cup, and then I was touched off here in the Paddy Power as well - I was starting to get nightmares about this place! I’m just grateful to Maskada’s owners for putting me up. I was going to win a mares’ handicap chase on her at Fairyhouse and she tipped over at the second-last, and then she won at Limerick next time out, but in fairness to the owners, they put me back on her. She loved the conditions out there today and jumped super all the way round. It’s brilliant.

“I had a lovely spin round. She can be a bit keen, but I suppose, going that gallop, she’s run over further in the past. I was just about hanging in there, but she was jumping great and I had a nice position. I winged the fourth-last and was just able to follow down to the third-last. I switched in round the home bend because I knew the ground wasn’t going to be great; she pinged the last two fences and kept on up the hill. Her jumping was very good - it has let her down a couple of times in the past. I’m just delighted to ride a winner for Henry [de Bromhead] - it is a testament to him and he had a great day yesterday, so I’m delighted to be able to add another one to the board. He’s a fantastic trainer and he’s been brilliant to me. He gave me my first Grade One winner as well, and he’s given me plenty of other high-profile rides as well, and I’m very appreciative of it.”

Frank Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, owner of runner up Dinoblue:" She has run very well considering she has not got the experience of the others as this was only her fourth run over fences. We are very pleased with the run."

Ben Pauling, trainer of third home Global Citizen:"He won the race last year but they gave him a bit too much rope out in front on that occasion. This time they have more or less kept tabs on him but he has still run a blinder in the circumstances as he is 11years old now."

4.50pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase 2m
1. Maskada 22/1
2. Dinoblue 7/2F
3. Global Citizen 12/1
4. Third Time Lucki 8/1

19 ran
Distances: 6½, 3, 1½
Time: 4m 3.00s

1st winner at The Festival for jockey Darragh O’Keeffe
19th winner at The Festival for trainer Henry de Bromhead


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