Mounthenry proves far too good for opposition

THE progressive Mounthenry proved far too good for his rivals in the Grade Two Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles yesterday.

The Charles Byrnes trained six-year-old overcame testing ground and stepping up four furlongs in trip with the minimum of fuss and is a horse with a good future.

Andrew McNamara was in no hurry, as Knight Legend cut out the running. Tengo Ambro, however, edged ahead at the second last, but the winner was soon in his slipstream. McNamara squeezed through a narrow gap heading to the last and once safely at the other side there was only going to be one result.

Mounthenry did stumble slightly at the back of the final flight, but it was of no consequence and he quickly stretched away.

Said McNamara: “He just had a little look when in front and jumped the last too big, but was grand.”

Commented Byrnes: “The plan is to head to Punchestown, where he will be entered over two miles and two and half.

“I don’t know whether he will run in the meantime, or if he will go over fences next season.”

Strong Project is proving a decent servant to the Sean O’Brien yard and was impressive on his way to landing the Cashel Fine Art Chase.

Plagued by indifferent technique of late, he hardly touched a twig here, making every yard of the running for John Allen.

Strong Project took no prisoners coming away from the third last and Allen was able to sit virtually motionless in the closing stages to beat Steel Band by eight lengths.

Commented O’Brien: “When he gets his jumping right he’s good. The plan now is the Mumm Melling Chase (won last year by Moscow Flyer) at Aintree.”

Frances Crowley enjoyed a welcome change of luck when Haggle Twins battled on well to win the Broadway Flyer At Greentree Stud EBF Beginners Chase.

Tom Ryan kept him going strongly all the way up the straight to hold Newtown Dancer and well-backed market-leader, Natural Storm.

“The horses weren’t running well after Christmas so we eased back a bit”, reported Crowley. “He will now go handicapping.”

Paul Carberry suffered a bruised foot in a fall from Billy Bonnie in this contest and, after riding County Final in the next, was stood down for the rest of the day. He is expected to resume at the weekend.

Nutmeg Tune, fresh from a promising return at Naas, easily landed the Thurles Racecourse Maiden Hurdle.

Paddy Flood eased her ahead after three out and the daughter of Accordion was much too good for Contradeal in the closing stages.

“We will try and get her some black type at Limerick”, said trainer, Edward O’Grady, who confirmed that Back In Front would challenge for the SunAlliance Novices Chase at Cheltenham next week.

Emmet Butterly (17) enjoyed his first success over flights when partnering Michael Halford’s Cosmo King to a ten lengths victory in the C J Sherran Ltd Maiden Hurdle.

The Desert King gelding powered clear between the last two flights to beat Coolgreaney and disappointing favourite, Line Ball.

“The 7lbs off his back was a big help”, said Halford. “He had a touch of a leg and we had to give him plenty of time.”

Arthur Moore admitted to being “tempted” to run Camlin River again at Navan tomorrow, following the gelding’s smooth win in the Prime Beef Handicap Hurdle.

Confidently handled by David Casey, Camlin River scored with a bit more in hand than the two lengths he eventually had to spare over Here Comes Sally. “He will go over fences sooner rather than later”, said Moore.

The trainer will be represented at Cheltenham by the Railway Man (Davy Russell) in the SunAlliance Novices’ Chase and Tiger Cry (David Casey) in the Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

Robert Tyner’s Footy Facts, winner of his only point-to-point at Knockanard, Co Cork, was best for money in the Bumper and streaked home.

Ridden by Liz Lalor, the Charlie Swan-bred son of Oscar went on heading to the home turn and powered clear to score by 20 lengths.

“He will go to the Curragh for a valuable bumper later this month”, said Tyner.

* Following an inspection at Navan, the chase course was found to be unraceable and the three races over fences scheduled for tomorrow have been cancelled.

However, Horse Racing Ireland have agreed to transfer the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Steeplechase Final to Naas on Sunday.

Each of the hurdle races at Navan will be divided to provide a seven-race card, although the track will be inspected again at 8am today.

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