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Foxrock strongly fancied for National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham Festival

Leading Irish owner Barry Connell has some star performers running at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival but has picked out Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase hope Foxrock as his "nap of the meeting"!

The six-year-old cost £75,000 back in November 2011 and has more than justified that price tag by picking up four wins under rules since making a winning debut in the point-to-point ranks.

Although finishing off last season with a game win over hurdles at Naas, the son of Flemensfirth always looked likely to come into his own when sent chasing and so it has proved.

After again battling on bravely to score at Fairyhouse in November, trainer Ted Walsh threw his charge in at the deep end in the Grade 1 Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown, where he was far from disgraced when finishing third behind Carlingford Lough and Morning Assembly.

With the benefit of that experience behind him, Foxrock then claimed a Grade 2 prize at Naas, beating Sizing Gold by seven lengths, and once more displayed a great desire to succeed when outbattling Mr Murphy at Navan in a similar grade.

Walsh knows what it takes to land a major marathon contest, having saddled Papillon to victory in the Grand National amongst other major triumphs, and he has earmarked the four-mile National Hunt Chase for this progressive sort.

However, Connell said: "He beat Sizing Gold at Naas and everybody said he outstayed him but he was going better than that horse six furlongs out, so he's not just an out-and-out stayer.

"He's not a slow horse and he's a very clever jumper. He's not flamboyant but he gets his front end up very quickly and, touch wood, isn't a horse that's going to get a fall for himself."

Connell has clearly always held the horse in high regard after revealing he named the gelding after a famous Leopardstown landmark and puts his chances of Cheltenham Festival success even above Champion Hurdle fancy Our Conor.

"We were sitting at Leopardstown races overlooking Foxrock and I saw that the name was available so I thought I'd reserve it and save it for a good one and I think we have a star," Connell added on At The Races. "He's a hugely exciting horse.

"He only had a handful of hurdle runs last year and is probably a year younger than most novice chasers, but he's won two Grade 2 races and was third in a very good Grade 1 at Christmas, so he has plenty of experience and he's my nap of the meeting."

Two of the last three National Hunt Chase winners have be sent across from Ireland, with Chicago Grey prevailing in 2011 and Back In Focus obliging last year.


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Foxrock strongly fancied for National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham Festival

Leading Irish owner Barry Connell has some star performers running at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival but has picked out Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase hope Foxrock as his "nap of the meeting"!

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