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CHELTENHAM 2018: First Festival rides for Fitzgerald & Deegan

CHELTENHAM 2018: First Festival rides for Fitzgerald & Deegan

Shane Fitzgerald and Richie Deegan are two young riders that have made a big impression between the flags in recent season’s, and their notable successes have not gone unnoticed, with the pair both securing their first rides at the Cheltenham Festival this week.

Fitzgerald, the reigning joint-champion novice rider, is once again in front in that category, and he is set to get his first riding experience of the Cheltenham Festival, as he has been booked to ride the Suzy Smith-trained Clondaw Cian in the 4-mile National Hunt Chase on the opening day of the Festival. 
The eight-year-old, who is owned by Wolf Allisat and Chris Ames, is a three-time track winner with previous experience of the Festival, having run in last year’s Pertemps Final. 
Although still a maiden over fences under rules, the Bennetsbridge four-year-old maiden winner, was only beaten a neck in a novice chase at Ascot in November.
A delighted Fitzgerald commented: “I am really looking forward to next week. 
“I have to thank Mick Goff for getting me the ride on him. I actually rode my first winner on him at Bennettsbridge in 2015 so I know him fairly well.”
It will also be a first chance to ride at the Festival for Carlow native Richie Deegan.
He has struck up a formidable partnership with Mine Now, and will be aboard the nine-year-old in the Pertemps Final. 
Deegan partnered the Peter Fahy-trained runner to an enterprising success in the Pertemps qualifier at Leopardstown during their Christmas Festival, and he will retain the ride on the nine-year-old, having also been aboard the Heron Island gelding when he won his point-to-point at Borris House for Aidan Fitzgerald in 2014.
The Festival could begin well for Deegan, who has also been confirmed to ride the Warren Greatrex-trained Keeper Hill in the 4-mile National Hunt Chase on the opening day of the Festival.
Owned by the McNeill family, the seven-year-old, who was a Grade 2 winner at Doncaster in December, is certainly not without his chances in the longest race at the Festival, as a general 12/1 shot.

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