Rex Dingle is fired up to make the most of his first ride in a Grade One contest when he teams up with his old ally Indefatigable in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The Paul Webber-trained mare gave Dingle his biggest success to date when pouncing late to land the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at last year’s Festival.
The dynamic duo came from the clouds to lead on the line and beat Pileon by a short head to spring a 25-1 surprise.
“It was fantastic last year. She was quite a big price – but going into it, I fancied the horse’s chances,” recalled Dingle.
“She had solid form round Cheltenham, so she wasn’t a write-off to me.
“She was a really strong finisher. I must have passed 16 from turning in, probably more, as I was last most of the way round.
“She’s quite quick and she loves passing horses. She stuck her head down and flew up the hill.
“She’s got really good form round there. She loves staying up that hill. She’s run around Kempton a couple of times this year and found it a bit sharp for her.
“I think she likes being dropped in, but it’s difficult to do that at Kempton, so she always has to be at the front end.
“It will be first time in Grade One company for the mare and for me. That’s exciting.”
Indefatigable needs good ground to be at her absolute best.
“The drier the better really for her, so fingers crossed,” Dingle said.
“To be fair, the plan last year was the Mares’ Hurdle or the Martin Pipe. Because it was wetter towards the beginning of the week, Indefatigable went for the Martin Pipe.
“On ratings, Indefatigable has every right to be there.
“It’s obviously a bit different this year (without crowds), but I’m still very much looking forward to it.
Dingle, 23, who is based with Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball, has ridden out his claim but remains a conditional jockey until the summer. He was an amateur rider before that and last year was not the first time he had competed at the Festival.
“I had ridden in the Kim Muir as an amateur for the Pipe stable a couple of years ago and finished fourth in the Martin Pipe on Champagne Court for Jeremy Scott,” he said.
“Cheltenham is the main stage of jump racing and at the Festival you are competing at the highest level. The tensions are high going into it. If it pays off, the rewards are massive.”
The Cheltenham Festival will be broadcast on ITV Racing March 16-19. For more info visit greatbritishracing.com
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