Walk In The Park Sires Grade 2 Double
Ashroe Diamond (7m Walk In The Park – Saine D’Esprit, by Dom Alco) completed the first leg of a Grade 2 double for Walk In The Park on Saturday when capturing the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare won a Grade 1 at the end of last season and returned last month to finish third against geldings in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. She was sent off second favourite to dual Grade 1 winner Gala Marceau on Saturday and travelled strongly throughout the two mile contest under Patrick Mullins. Asserting with ease at the second last, she was shaken up after the final flight and kept on well to score by two and a half lengths.
“What more could you ask for?” the winning rider said. “She has a high cruising speed and she jumped great. Her pedigree suggests she can go further but it's two and a half miles in the mares' race in March and that will be no problem to her.”
Ashroe Diamond is now second favourite for the aforementioned Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Bred by Mrs Mullins, the daughter of Walk In The Park has now won four Graded contests for the Blueblood Racing Club.
Another Festival contender to boost his chances on Saturday was Gidleigh Park (6g Walk In The Park – Lindeman, by Presenting) as he extended his unbeaten record in the Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Harry Fry’s charge impressed when winning a bumper on his sole start last season and returned to record easy wins on his first two starts over hurdles. Sent off favourite at the weekend, he raced prominently under Jonathan Burke and asserted at the second last. Headed before the final flight, he dug deep under pressure to lead close home, prevailing by half a length on the line.
Speaking after the race, Harry Fry said, “It was a Grade 2 so he had to step up and the race hasn't been run to suit – it turned into a sprint for home – but he got down and battled and got the job done. It's the first time he's had to battle, so he'll have learned again, but we've some questions now in terms of which race we run him in in March.”
Owned by the Eyre Family, Gidleigh Park features prominently in the betting for both the Grade 1 Baring Bingham and Albert Bartlett Hurdles. The exciting novice was bred by Mr and Mrs Kelvin-Hughes.