Fakir D’Oudairies team eyeing big prizes at Cheltenham and Aintree

Runners race towards the finish at the Cheltenham Festival. (Pic: Dan Abraham – RACINGFOTOS.COM – courtesy of Cheltenham racecourse).

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FAKIR D’Oudairies rewarded connections with a tenacious victory in the £150,000 Betfair Ascot Chase on soft ground at Ascot on Saturday.

The one-and-three-quarters of a length victory in the valuable two miles and five furlongs contest was the first in this race for owner JP McManus and the first win at Ascot as a trainer for Joseph O’Brien.

Ridden by the in-form Mark Walsh, the winner raced off the pace in the early stages, improving his position on the approach to the 10th of the 17 fences.

Urged on by Walsh, Fakir D’Oudairies challenged the leaders three out, was not fluent at the penultimate fence, but rallied well to lead at the last and maintained the momentum to secure the third Grade 1 prize of his career.

The Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the Melling Chase at Aintree are the likely targets for the seven-year-old whose latest victory boosted his lifetime earnings to £534,000.

“Fakir D’Oudairies in good shape,” O’Brien reported the next day, when speaking to the Racing Post. “It was a nice race to target and JP was keen to go there after the John Durkan at Punchestown. JP thought it was a race we could target and it was nice to win a Grade 1 with him.

“The logical races for him to be aimed at now are the Ryanair at Cheltenham followed by the Melling Chase at Aintree. We’ll see how the horse is in the coming weeks and if he’s in good nick, Cheltenham is an option. If we want to wait for Aintree, we can do that also. A decision will be made closer to the time.”

The ultra-consistent Fakir D’Oudairies – who has won seven races and finished second nine times in a career spanning 24 starts – has finished second on this last two visits to the Cheltenham Festival.

In 2020 he was beaten by Put The Kettle On in the Arkle Chase and in 2021 was runner-up in the Ryanair Chase, beaten 12 lengths by Allaho who is a short-priced favourite to win the same race again this year.

Fakir D’Oudairies has twice been beaten by Allaho this term and was well-placed by connections to win at Ascot.

“Fakir D’Oudairies is a Grade 1 winner and, when you are meeting those Grade 1 horses, you bump into the best of the best every time,” O’Brien said ahead of Saturday’s victory.

“He has been a fantastic servant for us over the last few years and every year has performed at the top level. 

“I suppose he is at a rating where he is just below the real top horses, but he is still a top horse in his own right and a young horse as well.

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