Vernon poised to be a major hit over hurdles

WILLIE MULLINS’ Major Vernon duly outclassed his rivals in the first division of the Cashel Maiden Hurdle at Clonmel yesterday, giving the impression there was plenty in the locker.

He jumped and travelled smoothly throughout for Ruby Walsh, easing into the lead coming away from the third last.

Rearing To Go threw down a strong challenge in the straight, but Major Vernon powered clear from the final flight for a comfortable victory.

“He is a lovely horse and there is loads of improvement to come”, said Walsh, who went on to complete a spectacular treble, taking his tally for the campaign to 72.

Commented Mullins: “He will probably go for the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse now.”

Cashmans gave Major Vernon a 16-1 quote for Cheltenham’s SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle, but Mullins said he very much had an open mind as to the horse’s best trip.

“He will be entered for both that race and the Supreme Novices’ and I just hope I have to make a decision two or three weeks before the Festival.”

Mullins and Walsh were on the mark in the second division as well with the equally impressive Our Ben.

He cantered ahead well before the second last to score with his head in his chest and justify 11-10 to 4-5.

I am delighted with the way he jumped”, remarked Mullins. “He was a lot more settled than he ever was in bumpers.

“Ruby says he will make a grand chaser and the Barry and Sandra Kelly over two and a half at Navan will be next.”

The Walsh treble was completed on another Mullins inmate, Jasmin d’Oudairies, in the Wilderness Chase.

This was another copybook performance from the pilot, who tracked the leaders until producing Jasmin d’Oudairies to collar front-running, Be My Better Half, on the approach to the final fence.

“He’s been an unlucky horse”, reported Mullins. “He will go back to handicaps now and run in races from two miles to two miles and six, he doesn’t quite get three.”

Edward O’Grady’s Kentucky Charm was the business in the ring for the Cahir three-year-old Maiden Hurdle, 6-4 to evens, and duly did the business.

He didn’t jump well at Punchestown previously and his technique left a little to be desired here as well.

But he clearly has an engine and, despite flattening the final flight, strode home 20 lengths to the good.

“He’s a horse who is coming on and will now go for a Grade Three at Fairyhouse”, said O’Grady.

Kentucky Charm was partnered by Barry Geraghty and he landed a double when Scarthy Lad took the Irish Stallion Farms’ Beginners Chase giving trainer, Thomas O’Leary, a welcome turn.

Scarthy Lad, however, was destined for a remote second spot when Kahuna, a good ten lengths to the good at the time, completely over-jumped at the last and crumbled on landing.

Kahuna, taken from 6-4 to 11-10, had jumped impeccably up to that point and, indeed, didn’t do a whole lot wrong when paying the ultimate penalty either.

“Barry said he badly needed the run”, reported O’Leary of Scarthy Lad. “He will be entered for the Drinmore (Fairyhouse), I just hope he’s good enough.” News on O’Leary’s other high class charge, Newmill, is that he worked after racing and is set to make his debut over fences at Navan on Sunday week.

Paul Carberry powered Missed Trip into the lead heading to the final flight to foil Ruby Walsh on top weight, Euro Flyer, in the Powerstown Desmene Handicap Hurdle.

Missed Trip is trained at Cloyne, Co Cork, by James Motherway. It was his second success, the first came with Hickory Hill in a Cork bumper, and he has held a licence for two years and has 18 horses in his care.

On an afternoon when Ireland’s three leading jockeys totally dominated, Carberry was also in the winner’e enclosure, after driving Noleens Moon to the front between the last two in the Fethard Handicap Hurdle.

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