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Michael Graham

Michael Graham

Experience stands Choungaya in good stead

Choungaya, far side, challenges Avellino at the lastChoungaya, far side, challenges Avellino at the last
© Photo Healy Racing

A better jump at the last enabled Joseph O'Brien's Choungaya to make the best way home in the opening beginners' chase at Fairyhouse. Avellino made sustained progress on the outer to lead narrowly on the approach to the final fence.

Choungaya was staying on in a close second and the whole complexion of the race changed upon jumping that obstacle.

Avellino stuttered his way through it and lost momentum while Choungaya (2/1) landed full of running and soon asserted.

Stablemate Fakir motored into second halfway up the run-in, as Avellino gave best, but Choungaya was driven out by Rachel Blackmore to win by a diminishing length.

Fakir (11/2 from 15/2) was nearest at the finish in second and drew two and a quarter lengths clear of Avellino (16/1 from 28/1).

The first two home sported the Gigginstown silks. Braeside (evens favourite) weakened out of contention before the second last.

“He got his head in front,” said assistant trainer Brendan Powell.

“Rachael said they didn't go a great gallop early and it turned into a sprint which probably wouldn't suit him as he stays well.

“He ran in the Paddy Power last time and you can get good experience from those races. He's a lovely jumper.

“I thought turning in Keith (Donoghue, on Desire De Joie was trying to keep her in a bit and she was ballsy. She's as good as I've seen for a long time.

“Fakir just went left at a few but he stayed on nicely. Hopefully he'll get his head in front.”

Choungaya's other career success came in a maiden hurdle at Tiipperary in October 2018.

Additional reporting by Gary Carson