Liberman leaves it late

THE rehabilitation of Liberman continued apace at Tralee yesterday when the Tom Mullins trained gelding landed the featured Brandon Hotel Handicap Hurdle.

He won the bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2003, trained then by Martin Pipe, but subsequently lost his way completely when launched over hurdles.

The six-year-old returned to this country to again carry the colours of former owner, Corkman, Pat O’Donovan, and scored on the flat at the recent Tramore Festival.

But the acid test was when he went back jumping and, truth to tell, it still left plenty to be desired. For the most part he lacked fluency, although he got his act together over the final two.

Five from home Liberman looked a remote possibility, trailing the field and appearing to be going nowhere. Indeed, he could have been backed in running on the exchanges at 30-1.

Ela Marathona edged ahead heading to the home turn and was was followed through by Hasik. But, suddenly, Robert Power was getting a real tune from Liberman.

Still only third at the last, Liberman found a fine turn of foot on the level to sweep past Ela Marathona in the dying strides.

“It was looking shaky with a mile to go”, said Mullins. “But he warmed well when Robert got into him. We’ll see what the handicapper does, but he could go back to the flat for his next run.”

Gold Spear, a half-brother to the more than useful Satco Express, stayed on dourly to take the Kerry Petroleum Arthur Blennerhassett Beginners ’Chase.

He jumped superbly, except for blundering at the fourth, and made every yard of the running. The six-year-old tired in the closing stages, but was still far too strong for this opposition.

Commented trainer, Eamonn Sheehy: “He’s a natural at that game and should make a nice novice over three miles.”

David Wachman, absent at the sales at Deauville, missed seeing his Faint Heart easily win the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Fillies Maiden.

The daughter of Sadler’s Wells proved a costly failure at Galway, but was much more at home on this easier surface.

She travelled sweetly in the hands of Seamus Heffernan, forging ahead early in the straight and lengthening well to score unextended by three lengths.

Fran Berry, who partnered Pennyforurthoughts, was suspended for two days for careless riding.

Arachine, a big order in the morning as high as 9-2, and 9-4 to 2-1 on track, landed the wagers in the Ballybeggan Park Racegoers’ Club Handicap.

In-form Berry drove him ahead over a furlong down and Arachine was always in charge, as Doonaree came from off the pace to claim second.

Diego Dias, who comes from Rio De Janerio, enjoyed his third success in Ireland for trainer Joseph Quinn on Set Barabbas Free in the second division of the Giles and Co Auctioneers’ Handicap.

“He came here through an agency and his work permit restricts him to riding just for me”, explained Quinn.

Princess Dariyba led before the straight, but Set Barabbas Free gradually reeled that one in, easing ahead inside the furlong pole.

Dias has ridden 96 winners in his native Brazil.

Pat Smullen rode his third winner for Harry Rogers aboard Kilmannin in the first division of the same contest.

Smullen pushed his charge ahead with over a furlong to go to easily beat Set Barabbas Free’s stable companion, Dunsinane.

Rogers completed a double when Rockieg Annie easily won the North’s Real Estate Alliance Handicap ’Chase.

Taken to the front four out by Philip Carberry, Rocking Annie battled her way through the ground to beat Give Me Style a cosy five lengths.

Declan McDonogh gave the front-running Neeze a typically powerful drive to grab the five furlongs Eddie Barrett Bookmaker Handicap.

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