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Press Release 15th December 2023 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Go Dante secured triumphant owner Barbara Hester the perfect birthday present when carrying her silks to a first ever Cheltenham success with a tenacious victory in the Catesby Estates Handicap Hurdle this afternoon.

Having endured several agonising defeats at the Home of Jump Racing, including the final flight fall of Brewin’upastorm in the 2022 Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle the passionate owner saw her luck change thanks to the talented Olly Murphy-trained seven-year-old.

Sent off the 7-2 Favourite to build on his sixth placed finish on his return to action in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at the track last month, the Kayf Tara gelding did not let his supporters down when fighting off a host of challengers after the last before scoring by a length and a quarter under Sean Bowen.

Hester said: “It is absolutely unbelievable. I’m so pleased for the horse. He has been a very good horse, but he has just had a bit of bad luck. Olly has finally got him right with Sean and I think there is more to come. I’m really excited about him. 

“He ran a very good race in the Greatwood, and we thought he was fit and ready to go. Sean (Bowen) came in and said he wants ground softer than that, but don’t step him up in trip as he will come on for the run. 

“That is exactly what he has done today as he has backed up that run. I’m absolutely over the moon. He is a very brave horse. It is also my birthday today as well today which is great.”

An outing in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February could now be a target for Go Dante in the second half of the season according to Murphy.  

He said: “This has been a long time coming. I’m not surprised. He is one of those horses that every time he runs I go racing thinking that he will win. 

“He has obviously won his races, but just not at a level I would have liked him to. He has had a lot of issues. He has broken his pelvis, and he had a schooling incident last season. 

“Barbara has been very patient and believed in my process with him. It has been small steps with him, but it has finally come together now. 

“I considered going to Ascot just before Christmas with him, but we decided to come here. I’m delighted we came here and won, but there is part of me that thinks I wish I had waited to go to Ascot for a bigger prize, but it is Barbara’s first Cheltenham winner and that is brilliant. 

“Something like a Betfair Hurdle is what we could look at. He has loads of ability and that was great.” 

Gavin Cromwell has been ever present in the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure this season and the Grade One-winning handler found himself back in the number one spot at what is fast becoming a happy hunting ground following a first success for La Malmason

Without a win in her first three starts over fences the daughter of Walk In The Park addressed that statistic in the Cheltenham Racecourse Food Bank Collection Mares’ Handicap Chase, which the 11-4 Favourite claimed by three quarters of a length in the hands of Keith Donoghue.

Cromwell said: “She is a lovely mare and she jumped well enough. I think she is progressive. She didn’t pick up as good as I thought she would, but listen she has won. 

“She unseated Keith (Donoghue) one day. When she is good, she is very good, but she has been making novicey mistakes. The last day at Down Royal the last three fences were taken out and the winner (Found A Fifty) was very good as she went on to be second in a Grade One.  

“It is nice to see her find her feet and hopefully she can go on from here. I think the race at Down Royal was a falsely run race. Aside from the winner the form hasn’t stacked up as Colonel Mustard has been well beaten since and the fourth horse (Lucky Max) has been beaten out of sight.

“The day at Limerick when she unseated she was travelling very similar to what she did today. I suppose she will be off a mark where she would warrant her place in some of those nice mares’ novice chase races. We will see what the handicapper does and take it from there.”


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