Light shines in Durkan win

The Robbie Hennessy trained 5/2 joint-favourite Rubi Light made his Grade 1 breakthrough when beating 2009 winner Joncol in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in Punchestown yesterday.

Ridden by Andre Lynch (riding his third Grade 1 winner in nine days), the exciting six-year-old jumped with his customary exuberance, when allowed bowl along in front, and had his rivals in big trouble soon after the fourth last fence, before Joncol (Paul Carberry) came through to chase him home, five lengths separating them at the line.

Unlucky on his seasonal bow in Gowran (he had Sizing Europe beaten when crashing at the last), Rubi Light oozed class as he gave owner Bill Hennessy, father of the winning trainer, his first Grade 1 win since Sublimity.

Robbie Hennessy stated: “That was great. Although he was a sick horse, he’s been working brilliant for the last two weeks. Andrew said he got a bit tired out there, so he should come on for the run. He loves that ground and we all know how well he cam jump. Andrew made sure there were no mistakes at the last, after what happened in Gowran.”

Hennessy confirmed that Runi Light will now tackle three miles for the first time in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, explaining: “We’ll look at the Lexus now. It should tell us if he stays three miles and whether he’s a Gold Cup horse or not. If he doesn’t stay, he’ll be going back to Cheltenham for another crack at the Ryanair.”

Bookmakers reacted by making Rubi Light a best-priced 12/1 shot, with Boylesports and Stan James, for the 2012 Ryanair Chase. Opinions vary on his prospects in the Lexus, Boylesports leaving him unchanged at 6/1 while Paddy Power cut him from that price to 4/1 for the December 28 showpiece.

Joncol’s trainer Paul Nolan said: “He seems to hit a flat spot in all his races and, when he did today, he was too far behind the winner. But he ran a good race and the plan is still to go for the Lexus. It’s less than three weeks away and, if I’m not happy with him, we’ll wait for the Hennessy.

Earlier, the Jim Culloty-trained Lord Windermere, a 25/1 shot when winning his maiden in Thurles, got the better of even-money favourite Dylan Ross in the INH Stallion Owners Novice Hurdle.

The favourite, confidently ridden by Paul Carberry, was produced to challenge at the last, put his nose in front briefly on the run-in, but was outbattled by the Tom Doyle-ridden winner, which prevailed by a head.

Culloty explained: “He’s a slow learner, still very green, and improving with every run. He’s a big chaser, with an engine.”

“He’s in the Grade 1 novice at Leopardstown, but that will come too soon so we’ll probably wait until February. That will determine which route to take and he’ll definitely be going novice chasing next October.”

Noel Meade and Paul Carberry, connections of Dylan Ross, had enjoyed better luck in the opener when the J P McManus-owned Please Talk, well-backed from 4/1 to 5/2 favouritism, recouped losses incurred on his bumper debut at Fairyhouse by making most of the running to land the 2012 Annual Membership Maiden Hurdle in emphatic style, at the expense of original favourite Not For Converting.

“He’s a gorgeous horse,” stated a delighted Meade (also successful with Corbally Ghost in Cork) afterwards, “I’ve loved him since the first day I saw him in John Halley’s and I was delighted to get him. Whatever he does over hurdles is a bonus - chasing will be his game. I have no firm plans for him, but he loves that soft ground and stays well.”

Trainer Michael Hourigan stated: “That’s great for Adrian,” referring to the twelve-day ban he picked up in Cheltenham on Friday, after Crash, in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, got the better of front-running Quietly Fancied in the Ladbrokes Supporting Longford GAA Beginners Chase.

Hourigan added: “He’s not the easiest horse to train, because of his size - he’s almost eighteen hands.

“He’s had a number of niggly little problems but, if I could get a good run with him, I think he’d be a very nice horse.

“He will probably run in the Grade 2 novice at Limerick over Christmas.”

After some earlier disappointments, and Golden Silver’s fortuitous win in Cork, Willie Mullins ended the day on a high, when Morning Royalty, a half-brother to Morning Supreme, made al in the hands of his son Patrick to land the bumper convincingly, by seventeen lengths, from debutant Ted Veale.

The champion trainer commented: “It looks like he needed the run the last day. I was worried about the ground, but Patrick said he handled it well. I don’t think he’ll go for a winners’ bumper - he’ll probably go jumping straight away.”

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