Champion Hurdle Third Darver Star Set For Fences

Darver Star

Surprise package Darver Star for trainer Gavin Cromwell finished a superb third for his trainer and connections in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in March and next season will be tried over fences.

The eight year old started off this season as a 104-rated maiden and now after landing five of his last nine races and placing three times in a row in Group One company the gelding now has a mark of 159.

The long term plan for Darver Star has been to go over the bigger obstacles but his owners will never forget one of the best days they have had in the sport when the gelding finished a memorable third at the Cheltenham festival.

(Credit Racing Post) Part owner Pat Cluskey said: "It was very emotional and the highlight of the day was nearly the walk back into the third place spot of the winner's enclosure.

"I looked around for Epatante because I thought she was after coming back – I thought the ovation was for her and not us. It was incredible, I had tears in my eyes."

He added: "You'd have to be very proud about how he ran. There was no way we could have beaten the winner giving her 7lb but the way our lad battled on to keep his position was fantastic."Thankfully, he came out of the race in top class form."

The big aim for the gelding next season will be to head back to Prestbury Park and go for the Arkle Challenge Trophy and he is currently best priced at 33/1 for the Grade One event.

"I'd say that'll be where we're aiming for," he said.

"We always thought he was going to be a chaser and even when he won for the first time at Wexford, Gavin said he'd be chasing sooner rather than later."

He added: "As one local journalist wrote after the Champion Hurdle, the horse's run at Cheltenham gave the county a boost when we needed it most.

"It's just amazing how local people got in behind him and I honestly believe that if Horse Racing Ireland want to get more people involved in racing, getting communities to feel like they're a part of a horse's journey is the way to go. 

"Maybe it was because we're in a rural area or that he wore the Louth county colours or that he was named after our parish, but the Champion Hurdle build-up got local people who wouldn't know one end of a horse for the other excited."