Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Leopardstown: Perfect Approach

Never mind Lou Reed, just ask Douglas Taylor about a perfect day. At Leopardstown yesterday his Dublin-based company, MCR, put up the prize fund for the afternoon's feature hurdle, one the most competitive and prestigious handicaps on the Irish programme.

His sponsorship, as these things do, provided a platform for entertainment and networking at an afternoon at the races.

And the craic was made oh so much the better when Taylor's own horse, Final Approach, galloped to victory. The businessman not only won back his own money — some £50,000 — but relieved the bookmakers of considerable funds too.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding was the best-backed in the race, supported from 14-1 to 6-1 second favourite, and was howled home uninhibitedly by 200 MCR clients and staff.

Final Approach was having only his fourth outing over hurdles, but belied his inexperience as, guided by Paul Townend, he cut through a closely grouped pack next to the rails rounding the final bend and quickened clear going to the final obstacle.

At the line he was two lengths clear and for good measure it was a stablemate, 16-1 shot Call The Police, who took the runner-up spot.

To win such a contest on such a day is a considerable feat, but then his trainer is one of the shrewdest.

Before yesterday Final Approach's only hurdle victory had come on his debut in a minor contest at Downpatrick.

The clues were there, though; he gave a glimpse of the light under the bushel in his warm-up at Fairyhouse last month.

“This was his Derby, so to speak, and it's not often a plan comes together like this one did,” said Mullins.

This was not the first time Taylor had been involved in a successful Plan A. At a lowly Kilbeggan evening meeting last June his horse D Four Dave, trained by Conor O'Dwyer, famously — or infamously if you are a bookmaker — landed a monster gamble in a carefully planned betting coup that yielded £166,000.

There was a winner for the prolific Tony McCoy on Rahan De Marcigny in the beginners' chase at Leopardstown yesterday.

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