Gutsy Last Hurrah defies top weight

THE LAST HURRAH produced a gutsy performance to defy top weight in the featured Dawn Milk Run Handicap Hurdle at the final stage of a hugely successful Killarney Festival yesterday.

Beautifully handled by Andrew Leigh, the winner travelled sweetly through the contest and was clearly going best between the last two flights, as he raced alongside stable companion, Atelios.

The Last Hurrah just about held the call at the final flight, but had to be hard driven all the way to the line by his competent pilot to hold Cellarmaster by a neck.

Trainer, Jessica Harrington, was represented by her assistant, Eamonn Leigh, father of Andrew. He indicated the Galway Hurdle would be next and that his son would keep the ride.

Andrew (22) only returned to action eight days ago, after being out for seven weeks with a broken collarbone. This was his fourth winner since his return.

Point-to-point rider James Sheehan, who trains 15 horses at Dungourney, Co Cork, enjoyed his second success when Davy Russell guided Kiranga to victory in the first division of the Aghadoe Heights Hotel Handicap Hurdle. Jay Lo gave him his first at Thurles.

Russell had the seven-year-old in front two out and Kiranga quickly galloped clear to score by an easy five lengths. Commented Sheehan, who has 120 winners between the flags to his credit: “It's about time, maybe he will win a couple of more now.”

Russell took the second section of the same contest as well, riding a whirlwind finish aboard Fatherghent. A welcome winner for Roscommon handler, Niall Moran, Fatherghent swooped late to touch off Mr Red Vic, who was lame after the race. Brian Byrnes, who rode fourth placed Precios Metal, was suspended for two days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee for failing to weigh in.

Also suspended here were Adrian O'Shea and Shay Barry, both for two days, for failing to obey the starter's instructions.

Lakil House, absent since finishing third at Tramore in December, had no trouble beating odds-on Gunnison in the Colm Foley Memorial Novice Hurdle.

Gunnison pulled hard throughout and had nothing in the locker to chase Lakil House when Michael Darcy sent him on early in the straight.

“We always felt he would be a better horse on nice ground”, said trainer, Dusty Sheehy. A novice hurdle at Galway now beckons for the winner.

Keelaghan stayed on stoutly under Pat Smullen to land the Dawn Omega Milk Maiden for the Mickey Flynn yard. He appeared to be struggling in third off the home turn, but found plenty for pressure and was a whopping four and a half lengths to the good at the line.

“He should have been out for Punchestown (Festival), but went lame and we had to leave him off ”, reported Flynn.

“I'm not sure where he'll go next, it could be the GPT at Galway or a winners' of one over hurdles.”

Monahullan Prince, who disappointed previously at Downpatrick, got back on the winning trail in the Murphy Mitsubishi Motors Handicap.

Gerry Keane's gelding got the full Chris Hayes treatment to outbattle Jimmy Spot On and Ashlawn through the last furlong.

Davy Condon, who rode fourth placed Belinkin, failed to weigh in.

He was suspended for two days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee.

Obadele kicked away early in the straight, in the Dawn Flavoured Milk Handicap, looking the most likely winner. But he was mugged close home, as Niall McCullagh powered Idle Journey past to score by half a length.

Michael Cleere, who partnered the third, Togher Castle, was suspended for seven days and ordered to attend RACE for a day, having been found guilty of using his whip with excessive frequency.

Colm Murphy's newcomer A Little Different powered between Winning Counsel and Hollywood Law close home to take the Bumper in the hands of James O'Farrell.

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