He won alright, but not before giving supporters a number of anxious moments. The grey certainly hampered the challenging Gotno Destination between the final two fences.
But that horse didn’t appear the most enthusiastic in any case and Tommy Treacy, on Mercuric, did his best to keep his charge running straight.
Mercuric landed upsides the trail-blazing For A Song at the last and then hung badly across towards the stands.
He found plenty for Treacy pressure, however, and was comfortably ahead at the line. A stewards’ inquiry was quickly called. The placings remained unaltered and it would have been a shock had any other decision been reached.
Emma Harrington represented her mother and said: “He wants futher and better ground.”
Harrington and Treacy completed a near 23-1 double when Hard To Get Ten slogged her way to victory in the Devil’s Bit Beginners Chase.
Powered into the lead off the home turn, the mare slowed before the last, but found enough on the flat to beat Forest Leaves.
“Mum is skiing at the moment, so we will have to keep her away”, quipped Harrington junior. “Three miles is this horse’s trip, she stays all day.”
Ebaziyan redeemed the promise of his debut over flights at Cork when landing the Ballynonty Maiden Hurdle.
He looked set for an easy win, cruising in behind Dancing Hero approaching two out. Ebaziyan didn’t find anything like as much as he threatened, however, and had to be driven out in the closing stages by Ruby Walsh to beat the dead-heaters, Dancing Hero and Jumeirah Scarer.
“He has been entered in the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham, but I don’t know if that run is good enough to take him across”, said Willie Mullins.
“We will give him another outing in a winners’ of one and then decide.”
Walsh landed a double, taking his total for the campaign to 102, when The Colt King shrugged off top weight in the Littleton Handicap Hurdle.
He went off a well backed marker-leader and the issue wasn’t in doubt once Walsh gave him the office coming away from the penultimate obstacle.
“He will go for a two miles and three at Naas on Sunday week’’, reported Jim Nash, assistant to trainer, John Coleman.
“All the jockeys who have ridden the horse say he will be better on better ground, I just hope they are right.”
Jeanette Riordan, who has ten inmates at Rathcormac, Co Cork, enjoyed her first success on the racecourse when Abbeytown took the Rock Of Cashel Handicap Chase.
He is owned by Mike Futter, who enjoyed his greatest day in the game when Monty’s Pass landed the Aintree Grand National for Jimmy Mangan in 2003. Monty’s Pass carried the colours of the Dee Racing Syndicate, headed by Futter.
John Cullen had the winner in front between the last two fences and the ten-year-old rallied well to resist Ballyfinney by half a length.
“He was going to head for the four miler (for amateur riders) at Cheltenham, but won’t now”, reported Futter. “It will be something else, because John was great and I want him to retain the ride!”
Tom Ryan took a fall from the The Flying Dustman, held in second spot at the time, suffering a broken collarbone.
The largely unconsidered Arthur Moore newcomer, Francis Du Mesnil, gave the layers a decent result when taking the bumper at 16-1. He paid 99-1 on the Tote. The French-bred swept up in the closing stages to beat flattering favourite Gentleman Jim giving pilot, Niall Kelly (18), a first winner on his first ride on the racecourse.
“Niall only lives down the road and has been coming to us since school, he’s a very willing lad”, said Moore.
The capable Clare McMahon guided the Micky Flynn-trained Arctic Force to an easy win in the Tipperary Handicap Hurdle for lady riders.
“He’s been round the block, but I’d say the better ground helped him”, said Flynn. Arctic Force returned with a bad gash to one of his legs and looks set for a spell on the sidelines.