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O'Brien at the double thanks to Coolanly

Fergal O'Brien recorded a 152/1 double on day one of the November Meeting at Cheltenham following 7/2 shot Coolanly's smart success in the concluding Grade 2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday.

Ridden by Paddy Brennan, registering a treble at Prestbury Park, Coolanly travelled smoothly throughout the two mile and five-furlong event and found plenty for pressure in the closing stages to score by three and a quarter-lengths from 9/4 favourite Pym in second.

Winning trainer O'Brien said: "I think Coolanly is probably a horse for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at The Festival. That was far enough for him today and he has had a hard race.

"He was a bit sore after he came back from the Persian War, so I have to give credit to everyone at home for getting him back here today.

"We will enjoy today and we might go for the Challow Hurdle because he won't have a penalty."

Paddy Power make Cooolanly a 33/1 shot for the G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at The Festival™ presented by Magners.

The 9/4 favourite Pym, trained by Nicky Henderson, finished second. Pym, a five-year-old by Stowaway, was stepping up in trip to two miles five furlongs for the first time. He was beaten three and a quarter lengths by 7/2 chance Coolanly.

Henderson said: "He ran a good race. It's his first time up in trip and he got the trip. He got beaten, but he's done nothing wrong. 

"He'll stay at two and a half miles, and as Noel [Fehily, who rode him] said, he's still quite naïve about racing, rather than anything else, so we'll go again."

O'Brien's Red Hot Chilly caused a 33/1 upset in the Swanee River Supports Countryside Alliance Novices' Handicap Hurdle.

Ridden by Paddy Brennan, the five-year-old son of Frozen Power took the lead with a powerful run approaching the home straight towards the outside of the field and he held on well in the closing stages to score by a length and a quarter from 7/1 shot My Brother, trained by Neil Mulholland, in second.
 
Brennan said: "I always thought Red Hot Chilly would be better suited by a fast-run race.

"It did not quite go to plan as I was there sooner than I wanted to be, but I knew he was race-fit and he has seen it out well.
 
"Myself, Alain Cawley and Harry Skelton sit together. We all walked the track and were of the same opinion [about going wide]. I knew they were in my wing mirror but most of all I knew Noel Fehily [rider of My Brother] was challenging me in behind and he was a danger.

"Red Hot Chilly was an outsider and it was easy to ride him like that."

There was good news at the end of Countryside Day, the first day of The November Meeting 2018, with a record crowd of 22,491 announced.
 
Last year's attendance came to 21,612, while the previous best total for the day was 22,071 in 2015.
 
Ian Renton, Regional Director of The Jockey Club, Cheltenham & the South West, remarked: "It is great to see so many racegoers at Cheltenham for Countryside Day, which is always a popular day.
 
"It augurs well for the rest of The November Meeting, tomorrow's The November Meeting Saturday and The November Meeting Sunday."
 
At the end of Countryside Day, the first day of the three-day November Meeting, Cheltenham's Clerk of the Course, Simon Claisse, said: "It's been a fantastic day's racing, as anticipated. 
 
"The ground has ridden as expected - on the slow side of good. I don't anticipate it will change much in the next 24 hours. Having said that, although the forecast is dry, it looks like being a brighter day tomorrow but cooler.
 
"We will be putting the track back this evening but are not anticipating any rail movements tomorrow because today, for the first time ever at this fixture, we opened up four yards of fresh chase ground, which is something we haven't been able to do before at this meeting. We will look at moving the hurdle rails for Sunday."
 
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