Prince Rudi (left) challenges Whodoyouthink at the final flight
©Healy Racing Photos
By Alan Magee
Stephen Nolan is dreaming of a first runner at the Cheltenham Festival next March after Prince Rudi landed the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier for the Kilcock trainer at Leopardstown this afternoon.
A maximum field of 30 went to post for the three-mile stamina test and Whodoyouthink (25/1) made a bold bid from the front, and had his rivals well stretched approaching the straight.
However Ian McCarthy steadily reeled in the leader on Prince Rudi (20/1), and got on top on the run-in to beat the front-runner by a hard-fought half a length.
Stonemaster (25/1) was a further two lengths back in third, with Organisedconfusion (6/1 jt fav) completing the placings in fourth.
Nolan said, “He’d a great run the last day at Fairyhouse, although the two and a half miles was on the short side. The plan was to run here once he came out of that okay and qualify for Cheltenham.
“He looked a million dollars today, and I wasn’t afraid of the ground. The bit of rain last night meant it wasn’t too sticky. Ian gave him a great ride.
“The original plan was to go back chasing but I’ve never had a runner at Cheltenham before so hopefully he’ll get in and the ground won’t be too fast.
“I’d also like to thank the owner John Prunty who is a great supporter of mine, and has had horses with me for a good few years.”