Danoli triumphant in defeat

When it came to brilliant losers, Sunday used to be dominated by Ski Sunday and Eddie Edwards. Yesterday, Danoli changed that.

Just over nine months after breaking a fetlock at Liverpool, Ireland's favourite jumper - since those sported by Val Doonican - ran a remarkable race to finish a close third, beaten less than a length, in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. Before racing, Tom Foley, Danoli's trainer, had given his horse as much chance as Ironside in his comeback race, and as he threw his arms around the gelding afterwards it was as much out of surprise as pleasure.

Collier Bay was the unlucky winner here, unlucky because his brave performance disappeared swiftly into the quicksands as the enormity of Danoli's performance sank in. Jim Old's representative trotted silently into the winners' area as the crowd girded themselves for Danoli's arrival.

The cameras of RTE also forgot the British victor, the first winner of the race from over the water since Royal Derbi in 1993, as spectators stood 10 deep around Foley and the crew with a camera and a large, hairy sausage. "I knew the horse was fairly fit but I must say I am more than surprised he finished in the money," the trainer said. "I would have been happy to see him run a good race and finish sound. Touch wood he stays right and goes to Gowran next month for the Red Mills race that should leave him ripe for the Champion Hurdle."

Danoli is now as low as 3-1 joint-favourite for the Champion with Ladbrokes, a position he shares with Alderbrook, who has yet to prove that he too can throw away the crutches.

Such a price looked somewhat unlikely yesterday as Danoli showed all the signs of a fresh horse, running freely and jousting with his jockey, Tommy Treacy, for dominance in the partnership. Destriero tugged the field along, and, when he dropped away, the 5-4 favourite Montelado loomed menacingly at the turn into the straight. Pat Flynn's runner, who looked a little burly in the paddock, then followed Destriero into reverse.

Collier Bay appeared as if he would be swamped by Hotel Minella after the last but he rallied on the run-in to get back in front. Both the forecast horses were cut extravagantly for Cheltenham, but could not match what they achieved in the race and finish ahead of Danoli. The eight-year-old pressed on again after being outpaced in the straight and opinion seemed to be that he would have prevailed in another 50 yards. "I was instructed to mind the horse and bring him back in one piece and I would have been quite happy to finish a fair third until Danoli flew the last hurdle and put his head down and showed what courage he has," Treacy said. "I am really looking forward to Gowran now and the Champion Hurdle if he stays sound."

Danoli was not the only horse sending out poor signals in the initial stages. Jamie Osborne, Collier Bay's jockey, felt his mount was travelling so badly he might as well take the keys out of the ignition. "I feared he was the first horse beaten," he said. "He wasn't travelling well for the first half of the race and I had to give him a smack with the whip after the fourth last to get him stoked up. Once I pulled him wide of a few horses after the third-last he came back on the bridle and after the second-last quickened up well."

Aidan O'Brien, Ireland's champion jumps trainer and the man behind Hotel Minella, was far from despondent about his charge's display. "Just watch him when he gets the good ground he needs, hopefully at Cheltenham," he said. Hotel Minella will surely have his watchers at Prestbury Park in March, but the certainty is that the bulk of the binoculars will be trained on another Irish horse.

LEOPARDSTOWN (2.45) 1. COLLIER BAY (J Osborne) 5-1; 2. Hotel Minella 8-1; 3. Danoli 10-1. 11 ran. 5-4 fav Montelado (4th) hd, 1/2. (J Old). Tote: pounds 5.10; pounds 2.00, pounds 2.90, pounds 3.30. Reverse Forecast: pounds 31.70. CSF: pounds 47.36.

CHAMPION HURDLE (Cheltenham, 12 March): Coral: 11-4 Alderbrook, 4-1 Danoli, 8-1 Collier Bay, Hotel Minella & Montelado, 10-1 Mysilv; Ladbrokes: 3- 1 Alderbrook & Danoli, 8-1 Collier Bay, 10-1 Hotel Minella, 10-1 Montelado & Mysilv, 12-1 Atours, 14-1 Right Win; William Hill: 5-2 Alderbrook, 4- 1 Danoli, 8-1 Montelado & Mysilv, 10-1 Atours, 12-1 Right Win, 14-1 Collier Bay & Hotel Minella.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue