Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Press Release 27th January 2024 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Capodanno (7-2) became only the second Irish-trained winner of the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (3m 1f 56y) when successful in the Grade Two contest at Cheltenham today, Festival Trials Day.


Racing in the famous silks of J P McManus and trained by Willie Mullins, the eight-year-old Manduro gelding benefited from a superbly timed ride by Paul Townend.


Taking the lead on the run down to the last, Capodanno kept on well to hold off the rallying The Real Whacker (7-2) by two and three-quarter lengths with Stay Away Fay (3-1 Favourite) another three-quarters of a length back in third.


The previous Irish-trained winner of the race was Rince Ri (2002) for Ted and Ruby Walsh.


Paul Townend said: “He could do (drop back in trip for the Ryanair) but that is up to Willie, Frank (Berry, racing manager to JP McManus) and JP’s team.


“I was lucky to get the leg up today, and I’m not usually in these colours, but with Mark (Walsh) being at Doncaster and jockeys being everywhere, and Lossiemouth coming here, it was nice to fall onto this ride.


“He probably (has been a bit disappointing) because he showed as a novice that he was going to be a big force to be reckoned with. I don’t think they got the clearest of runs with him, but they seem to be able to train him now and keep going with him. It was a good performance.


“It was very straightforward. It was a small field and I was going to ride my horse to suit him and luckily it worked out. He had been doing everything very well. He was very close with Gerri Colombe the other day and I suppose if he was here he would have been very short. If you took that look at it beforehand he was probably just overlooked a little bit.


“I think when people studied the race he went off shorter than he was during the week. He had to back up his last run and he did today.”


David Mann, part-owner of runner-up The Real Whacker, said: “I think he is back on track again. Willie is the top trainer in the world and being beaten by him is no disgrace.


“What we really liked is how The Real Whacker came back at him again which was a good sign. He came up that hill well and got back in for second. It seemed he wasn’t tired, and the Gold Cup is another furlong so he is definitely up for it.


“Anything can happen. I think it is all systems go for the Gold Cup and I can’t see why Paddy wouldn’t be happier enough with that run. I think The Real Whacker is back on track. This season we are up against different horses, and it is a step up out of novice company. Fair play to the horse. We would have loved to have seen him win but that is sport.”


Paul Nicholls, trainer of third-placed Stay Away Fay, said: Nicholls “He has learnt an awful lot today. He landed on the ditch first time round and the one late he pecked on landing probably didn’t help. I think he half blew up a little bit turning in and then he stayed on late.


“We are thrilled as he has probably learnt more today than any race he has run in. He has not been beaten far, and at the weights he had an impossible task. I think that has put him right for The Festival.


“He is one of those horses you don’t want to run too quick. Last year he got beat at Doncaster then he improved massively from there to Cheltenham and he will still improve. He will 100 per cent go for the Brown Advisory.”


Cookie Policy

We use “cookies” to help enhance your experience and improve the functionality of our website. You can find out more in our cookie policy. We also serve cookies, some with chocolate chips, on our racecourses.