It was a contest which Kieren Fallon will look back on with mixed emotions. To put it bluntly, he found every bit of trouble that was going in running. Hitchcock was a major order in the offices all day, from as high as 2-1. He opened at 5-4 on the track and that appeared particularly skinny. But the three-year-old quickly developed into a major order and went through all the rates down to a returned price of 10-11, extraordinarily short in a competitive contest.
Fallon was locked away on the inside throughout, had nowhere to go up the hill to the straight and, when he finally saw daylight, had a gap closed as he tried to go between eventual winner, Kevkat, and Le Leopard.
Declan McDonogh rode a copybook race on Eoin Griffin's gelding, powering through late on Kevkat to beat Le Leopard a neck with Hitchcock behind in third.
Said Griffin: “I thought he was good value, being 12lbs better in with Hitchcock compared to the last time they met (Curragh). He might go down to Tralee now and will probbably jump a hurdle later on.”
Kevkat was one of three winners for McDonogh, who gave another clear indication of his tremendous talent.
Mark Prescott kept up his terrific record in Ireland when Elusive Dream and McDonogh ran away with the St James' Gate Race. The Rainbow Quest colt too was a big order in the morning at 6-4 and, with Mutakarrim not meeting the engagement, ended a 4-9 shot. He never gave those who waded in any cause for concern.
McDonogh had him in front after three furlongs and Elusive Dream surged away going down into the dip to score by 14 lengths. Prescott, who was enjoying a first success at the Festival, was represented by one of his travelling girls, Kelly Ridden.
“He's done it well and we are going home now”, reported Ms Ridden.
McDonogh gave Rajeh a powerful drive to land the EBF Maiden for his boss, Kevin Prendergast. He brought the son of Key Of Luck with a sweeping late challenge to edge past the promising Flare Star to the tune of a length and a half.
“He didn't come down the hill very well, but is a real nice horse”, said McDonogh.
On Monday night Euro Leader got bogged down on the soft ground in the GPT Handicap, but back on a better surface toyed with his rivals in the Tony O'Malley Memorial Handicap Chase.
He had top weight, the steadier of 11-10, but shrugged it off with the minimum of fuss, under a confident Ruby Walsh drive. Walsh, partnering his fourth of the week, was in no hurry, but took his rivals out of their collective misery when pushing the eight-year-old ahead off the home turn to win with his head in his chest.
“The plan is Tralee and Listowel (Kerry National) and then to Cheltenham in November for the Paddy Power Chase”, said trainer, Willie Mullins.
“Ruby says he is much braver in his jumping since we took him to Aintree.”
Careless Abandon, runner-up earlier in the week behind Raspberry Beret, went one better in the Arthur Guinness Handicap.
In the care of Tyrone handler Andrew Oliver, Careless Abandon found plenty for Willie Supple pressure through the final furlong to foil market leader, Cabo.
Commented Oliver: “We did fancy her, the draw was a wee bit of a worry, but she coped well. She is a big filly and is only coming to herself now.”
Supple completed a double when Frank Ennis' Ferneley justified tight odds with a smooth victory in the Guinness Auction Maiden.
He quickened well from the furlong pole to ease clear of Delphia and Tipperary is now on the radar.
Commented Ennis: “He goes to Tipperary next Thursday for a winners' race and won't have a penalty. Willie said he didn' handle the track, but was fine once straightening out.”
Francis Flood's Lorna's Star landed a real touch in the Guinness Handicap Hurdle.
In what looked a wide open race, she was thumped in from 8-1 to 4-1 favourite. Beautifully handled by James O'Farrell, Lorna's Star eased ahead approaching the final flight, the verdict five lengths.
The attendance last night was 31,547, up from 28,341 a year ago.