Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase

RICKY Doyle and Martin Brassil have enjoyed their finest moments in the sport in big National races, and they combined for another fine moment when Desertmore House (11/1) surged clear on the run-in to claim the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel on Wednesday.

The eight-year-old was second reserve and very unlikely to get a run on the morning of the race but Brassil received a call from Gordon Elliott to say it’s worth loading up, as he had one out already and was to decide on another after walking the track.

Somewhat ironically, it was an Elliott horse, Salvador Ziggy, who Desertmore House conquered in the straight. It would have been worth more than a penny for the thoughts of Elliott, who had earlier cut a frustrated figure when revealing on Racing TV that Brian Hayes had opted to stay on Gevrey, blocking a switch for the freed up Danny Gilligan as a result of Ash Tree Meadow’s omission.

However, when it was all said and done, Desertmore House was good value for his win. Sat in behind the leaders, he jumped and travelled well close to the rail for most of the journey for Doyle, who asked him to get closer after the third last.


From here he gave chase to two Elliott runners, long-time leader Chemical Energy and the more threatening looking Salvador Ziggy, who moved well into the race for Jack Kennedy.

He jumped the last alongside the latter mentioned and looked set for a tight battle but in the end, surged away to win by just under four lengths.

“It was kind of a late plan,” the Curragh trainer said. “When he won in Kilbeggan, he went to 135. He is a novice that jumps like a handicapper and I just wanted to get more experience into him. There is a Munster National coming up and the Troytown, and the Paddy Power so there are a lot of options for a horse who jumps like that.

“Gordon rang me this morning and said you should put your horse on the box because I’ve one out and I’m going to walk the track and if I’m not happy I’m going to take the second one out. It was a nice gesture.”

The son of Court Cave was winning on just his fourth start over fences. He is owned by Bernard Carroll and Anthony Vaughan, carrying the colours of the former mentioned, for whom Brassil famously trained Numbersixvalverde to win the Grand National.

With so few miles on the clock, Brassil didn’t rule Aintree as a possible long-term target for Desertmore. “One of the first winners I trained was Section Seven for the owner, he started off in 1995 and won a bumper. We’ve had lovely winners since and Numbersixvalverde is the one that jumps out. This fella might start us dreaming again.

“He is eight so he has had plenty of time to mature and has good experience over hurdles. Denis Leahy won a point-to-point with him and I’d say did an awful lot of schooling with him because he is great to jump. “Ricky was thrilled with him all the way. I said if you’re still travelling going to the third last, I said they’re not after going fast enough. I said make sure you’re in the van and they’ll quicken up from there but they’re going to have to stay as well. I’d say it rode a bit slower than they were expecting.”

For Doyle, it was a second big National win following his success on Freewheelin Dylan in the Irish Grand National in 2021. He goes back a long way with Brassil, so the victory was sweet.

“I grew up watching Martin win Nationals and all I wanted to do was to win a National for him,” Doyle reflected. “I didn’t care what National it was, up and down the country, or either side of the water, and I’m delighted it’s on the CV.


“I’m 18 years riding out for Martin now on and off but the early experience I had with him was very valuable and I’m delighted to be back riding out for him three days a week now. Martin has a great team of horses, he has JJ there riding them but if we’re first reserve we won’t complain about that.”

Salvador Ziggy ran a fine race in defeat while the popular Foxy Jacks somehow stayed going to finish third, having earlier cut out the running and then had his jockey Gavin Brouder perform heroics to keep the partnership intact. At the fourth last, Gevrey made a significant mistake, with Brian Hayes doing well to stay on as well, but it was a race-ending move as he was pulled up shortly afterwards.