Fakir D’oudairies enjoyed another day in the sun, finally turning a strong performance into victory at the Grand National Festival, writes Bradley West.
The 2019 Drinmore winner is as consistent as they come, and has been in some form all season but has finished runner-up on no less than four separate occasions over the past 13 months.
Trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Mark Walsh, the six-year-old may still have room to grow and seized his chance with two to go to beat Nuts Well and Itchy Feet to justify favouritism in the Marsh Chase.
“He deserved his day in the sun, he’s been running savage races all year without getting his head in front,” Walsh said.
“He went a right good gallop at Cheltenham and he’s done well today.
“They went a good gallop and Joseph and Frank [Berry, McManus's racing manager] said to me this morning to ride him with a bit of light.
“He jumped brilliant and missed one or two when he was behind horses, which is why I pulled him out.”
At the age of just six, more may be to come from the winner, but exact plans are yet to be decided.
Despite often being the bridesmaid and not the bride, O’Brien was quick to praise Fakir’s character and believes that helped him finally get over the line first again.
“I thought it was a great performance from the horse and Mark gave him a great ride,” O’Brien said.
“He has been a real consistent horse all of his life. He has been second in four Grade Ones since he won his previous one so it is nice to get another on the board at this level with him.
“Although he has finished second a lot there is no questioning his attitude as he wears his heart on his sleeve and gives everything in every race.
“He has been a little bit unlucky as he has been beaten by some top-class horses. I’m just delighted to get another winner on the board.
“I say that two and a half miles is probably the trip that is best for him. We will see how he comes out of this before making any plans. We will just enjoy today and take it from there.”
And the Irish success on day two continued in the fifth race as Willie Mullins made it two from two over the Grand National fences this week with Livelovelaugh in the Topham Handicap Chase.
The 11-year-old had been on a long losing run coming into this contest but arrived with experience over the big fences which may have stood him in good stead.
“Incredible,” winning jockey Mullins said. “Every jockey wants to win one over the fences here, it’s something you want to do before you retire.
“It’s great to get one on the board. It wasn’t so much kicking, I wanted to get away. I didn’t even ask him to forward, he was just enjoying himself.
“I don’t think he stays. He jumps and he travels, this was his Grand National here.”