McNamara Enjoying The Dream With Well-Bought Grade 1 Contender

The Punchestown Festival has been very much the Willie Mullins show with Ireland’s dominant jumps trainer going into the final day of the meeting with 14 winners in the bag already.  

Mullins looks as though he will be hard to topple in the feature Grade 1 Champion Four Year Old Hurdle on Saturday given he runs four of the eight runners, including Triumph Hurdle winner Lossiemouth (Fr) (Great Pretender {Ire}), but Andrew McNamara will be bidding to spoil the party once again with Enjoy The Dream (GB) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}).

The aptly-named filly has already delivered a giant-killing performance for McNamara this spring when getting the better of Mullins’ Blood Destiny (Fr) (No Risk At All {Fr}) in a Grade 2 at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival to cause a 33-1 shock. 

What makes Enjoy The Dream’s exploits even more remarkable is that the filly was McNamara’s one big bullet to fire this season after he stuck his neck out to secure the former Markus Klug-trained filly at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses-In-Training Sale for 160,000gns on behalf of owner Andrew Heffernan. 

McNamara recalls, “She’s the most expensive horse we have been lucky enough to buy. When you try to buy a horse of that quality off the Flat, you are competing against the Australian market and obviously against some of the bigger jumping yards as well. 

“Over the four days at Newmarket, my list became very small and she just didn’t quite tick all of the boxes for Australia given she had been running on softer ground in Germany. She wasn’t due into the ring until the end of the fourth day, by which time I had sussed that Willie [Mullins] and Gordon [Elliott] weren’t in for her.”

He added, “We took aim and there was just a lot to like about her profile given she had been campaigned over various different trips, handled softer ground and stayed well. She’s a big filly as well and looked like she could jump. Luckily, it worked out that way. 

“I had it down to her and Ascending (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}). He’s turned out to be a good horse as well and I wouldn’t have been too disappointed if I had come home with him either.”

McNamara has been forced to be patient with the filly who broke her hurdling duck in that Grade 2 contest at Fairyhouse earlier this month. Now the trainer is eyeing Grade 1 company on Saturday but is realistic about the task at hand. 

He said, “Enjoy The Dream took a bit of bedding down when we got her home. We would have been hoping to get her going earlier in the season and have her ready for something like the Boodles at Cheltenham but she was very keen and a bit light. Dr Heffernan is a great man to train for and there is never any pressure and is always very patient. It just ended up that we waited a bit longer for her to come and it has worked out well.”

McNamara added, “It would be amazing if she did come out on top on Saturday. I have to say that I do love Lossiemouth and think she’s a very good filly. We could be up against it with her and Gala Marceau (Fr) (Galiway {GB}) but, on the performance at Fairyhouse, there shouldn’t be much between Enjoy The Dream and the rest of them.”

Enjoy The Dream had already achieved black-type on the level in Germany before joining McNamara and, while the trainer is sure that the filly will return to the level at some stage in the future, he is keen to get Saturday’s race out of the way before committing to concrete plans. 

He said, “Somewhere along the line, she will definitely go back on the Flat, and we could go to France as well. She was very good at Fairyhouse but we’re not getting carried away with ourselves just yet and we’ll see how Saturday goes first before making any plans.”

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