He hadn’t been seen since running out a very lucky winner on his debut at Clonmel in November. The seven-year-old was well adrift of Kahuna when that horse fell at the final fence.
“This is all down to physio Sarah McDonald from Tipperary”, said trainer Thomas O’Leary. “He was lame after Clonmel and, indeed, Fergie Sutherland thought he might even have been lame before the race.
“He suggested we get Sarah and she has done a great job. We saw a new horse today.”
Barry Geraghty did a fine job with the winner, getting him well settled and only asking him to race when good and ready.
Scarthy Lad eased ahead going to four out and quickly skipped clear to beat Boneyarrow and the disappointing Mossy Green.
“He will now go for the Baileys’ Arkle at Leopardstown”, said O’Leary, with Cashmans clipping his odds from 33-1 to 20’s for the Arkle at Cheltenham.
Ruby Walsh came in for a chance ride on Tom Mullins’ All Heart in the Heineken W T O’Grady Memorial Hurdle and made the best of it.
Explained Mullins: “Anthony Freeman was to have ridden, but the minitel wouldn’t accept him. We discovered he hadn’t renewed his licence.”
Grangehill Dancer tried to make all, but was never jumping with her usual fluency. Walsh stalked her throughout and there was only going to be one outcome once he gave All Heart the nod two out.
“We were delighted to get Ruby, she stays well and there should be further improvement to come”, said Mullins. “The Triumph Hurdle is a long way away, but maybe...!”
Walsh completed a double with a powerful performance aboard Mr Babbage in the INH Stallion Farms’ EBF Novice Hurdle.
Simon was all the rage at morning prices and went off even-money favourite. He looked the likely winner when heading trail-blazing Carrig Blue at the third last.
But Carrig Blue fought back, as Walsh drove Mr Babbage into contention. Carrig Blue was the first to crack and when Simon hit the final flight, Walsh seized his chance to drive Mr Babbage to a two and a half lengths victory.
“He will stick to this game, staying novice hurdles”, said Willie Mullins. “He’s a horse who wouldn’t mind going another two furlongs and is an out-and-out chaser for next season.”
Aqua Breezer, the best backed horse in the contest and the medium of some decent wagers, trounced the opposition in the Cashel Maiden Hurdle. Beautifully handled by the promising Tom Ryan, Aqua Breezer led three out and quickly strode clear to score by 20 lengths.
Commented trainer, Caroline Hutchinson: “She’s a right mare and chasing will be her game in time.”
John Bleahen is a handler who usually keeps a nice horse and he introduced another decent sort in the making in Lakil House in the Bumper.
Partnered with total confidence by Derek O’Connor, the Accordion gelding was pulling double over his rivals in the straight, slipping ahead over a furlong down to score with plenty in hand.
“There was a bit of pressure, a few quid was going down”, revealed Bleahen. “He’s a smart horse, who wouldn’t have been in love with the ground. He’ll go for a winners’ of one and I’d imagine will be sold.”
Ken Whelan is enjoying a good little run and he was on the mark again when guiding the John Joe Walsh trained Island Pride to an easy success in the Thurles Handicap Chase.
In front four out, Island Pride was soon clear. “He had a good run at Limerick and I knew would be hard enough to beat on the ground”, reported Walsh.
Aileen Ann O’Connor, who has just two horses in training outside Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, enjoyed her first success when Black Dot Com powered clear in the straight, surviving a minor error at the last, to take the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.