In-form Walsh boots home another double

RUBY WALSH, fresh from a spectacular six-timer at the Paddy Power Cheltenham Open meeting, wasted no time getting among the winners back on home soil at a sparsely attended Limerick yesterday.

He landed the first on the programme, the December 26-29 Christmas Racing Festival three-year-old Maiden Hurdle, on Willie Mullins’ Financial Reward.

The strapping Fruits Of Love colt was making his debut over jumps, but did his job in fine style.

Marveilles kicked on heading to the second last, but Walsh was quickly out after him.

Financial Reward led at the final flight and quickened away on the level to score unextended by two and a half lengths.

Mullins was late for the contest, but subsequently reported: “I saw a re-run of the race and am delighted with him.

“We will try for a winners of one now and the plan is the Denny at Leopardstown at Christmas.”

Walsh, already well on his way to another championship, took his tally for the campaign to 79 when completing a double aboard Mullins’ Orge D’ete in the second division of the Another Reminder About Christmas Racing Maiden Hurdle.

Always odds-on, the four-year-old toyed with the opposition, cruising into the lead approaching the second last.

“He did what we expected”, said Mullins. “I loved the way he jumped and am looking forward to him going over fences next season.”

Media Queen took the Hang With Hector on December 28th Novice Handicap Hurdle at odds of 9-1, but certainly didn’t go unbacked, after the 16-1 in the morning was taken.

She shot ahead before two out for Davy Condon to beat Broughtons Flush cosily. Media Queen is trained at Dungourney, Co Cork by Denis Ahern, who was sporting a broken leg, having been the recipient of a kick from a horse.

Commented Ahern: “Davy Russell rode her one day and said to try a tongue-tie. We tried it at home and it worked and it has made all the difference.”

It hasn’t been the best of years for Harry Rogers and Lucky Slipper was a welcome success for him in the Christmas Pavilion Packages Online Handicap Hurdle.

She defied top weight in good style, finding plenty for Andrew Lynch pressure to resist Cupid’s Bow by a head.

“This has been a long time coming, but she did it well and he’s (Lynch) a good rider”, said Rogers.

Edward O’Grady, in France buying horses, continued his rich vein of form when Grapevine Sally won the Christmas Details on www.limerickraces.ie Mares Hurdle.

She mightn’t have come off the bridle but for getting it wrong three from home and Paddy Flood had to bustle her along down hill to the straight.

The winner, backed from 11-10 to 4-5, then found it hard to get a run, but once in the clear was always going to score, easing away between the last two flights. A stewards’ inquiry was soon called, but there was never a possibility of a change to the placings.

The Tony Mullins-trained, J P McManus-owned, The Boxer Roche was best for money in the ring in the 25 Minutes From Shannon Airport Maiden Hurdle and duly obliged.

Allowed stride on with a circuit to cover by Conor O’Dwyer, he had this in safe keeping early in the straight.

Mullins was absent, but McManus was on hand to greet his charge. Said McManus: “Conor felt he would be better in a faster-run race, but I was happy the way it was run!”

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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