Connections of Clondaw Warrior have a million in mind for the nine-year-old, which won for the 12th time in his career when accounting for six rivals in the featured Jim Strang & Sons Kilsheelan (Peugeot) Hurdle yesterday afternoon at Clonmel.
Trying three miles for the first time, the Galway Hurdle winner was ridden in third place, some eight lengths off the pace being set by Val De Ferbet and Taglietelle.
However, Ruby Walsh, whose wife Gillian is a member of the Act D Wagg Syndicate which owns the horse, was always confident aboard the odds-on favourite and, after easing upsides Val De Ferbet between the last two hurdles, strode away for a smooth victory.
“Going on his flat form, I was hoping the step up in trip [would suit], but I hadn’t bargained for the soft ground, but he handled it against these, and I’d imagine he probably didn’t do much more than his ratings,” said winning trainer Willie Mullins.
“I was happy with the run, and we might look at staying at this trip. I think he’s in that race [Christmas Hurdle] at Leopardstown at Christmas. We’ll see what else we have in it, but that would be a nice race for him.
“Today wasn’t in the plan for him, but the race came up and I thought ‘why not three miles?’ He’s rated 152 at two-and-a-half miles and, on his flat form, he could be a 160-plus horse over three miles. And hopefully that’s what he is.”
With a little improvement he would not be out of place in the World Hurdle, but the dual-purpose horse, which will continue to mix it on the flat and over jumps, could be destined for hotter climes.
“We’re also looking at that race on Dubai World Cup day; there’s a two-mile race for a million. He might have a bit of jumping to do before that, though.”
Mullins and Walsh were also on the mark in the opening race, in which Crack Mome returned short odds with a fine effort. The performance may not have justified his current position near the head of the market for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but it was a positive first step on a journey that could lead the highly-rated Spanish Moon gelding to the Cotswolds in years to come.
His delighted trainer said: “It was a very good performance from that guy, I was really happy the way he jumped out of that ground. Ruby said it was proper soft, so to be able to jump like that first run out of that ground was very good and would bode well for the future.
“I think the minimum trip is enough for him, I don’t think we have to go much further. He has enough speed. And Ruby passed a remark he was very green, so I would be hoping there could be improvement all round.
“He thought he was just very, very green when he pulled him out to run and I was just wondering was he coming to the end of his tether, but Ruby said ‘no, he just knows nothing about racing’. We’re hoping for lots of improvement.”
The Irregular was an eye-catcher last Thursday at Thurles, and the four-year-old built on that promise when taking the Powerstown Handicap Hurdle for Denis Hogan, who trains the horse and was also on top on this occasion.
Co. Wexford trainer Donald Cashman was on the mark when two-time point-to-point winner Bobbythegangster earned a first success inside the rails by taking the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle under Conor Walsh.
There was a minor upset in the Beginners’ Chase as the Brian McMahon-trained Powersbomb (14-1) led his rivals a merry dance under Mikey Fogarty. Unseated on his previous start, he gave a display of jumping at all bar the last two fences on this occasion, but had enough left to hold the well-backed Laid Back Luke by a length.
Rachael Blackmore gave favourite Smadynium a positive ride in the Club Stand Restaurant Handicap Chase, and her mount responded to the tactics, as he pulled away up the straight to win with plenty in hand.
“We were 5lbs well-in coming here, and he was a bit unlucky the last day, as he got left at the start when we intended to make the running,” said winning trainer Shark Hanlon.
“He’s a fun horse, and that’s job done with him, as he has won two of his three since we got him. He goes on any ground, from heavy to firm, which is a big help in Ireland.”
There was a real upset in the finale, the qualified riders’ maiden hurdle, in which 3-1 chance Kagney, ridden by Danny Benson for trainer Noel Meade, made all the running and readily got the better of 1-3 favourite Pylonthepressure.
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