Pat Hughes’ improving six-year-old defied top weight with a smooth defeat of Mill House Girl, but the trainer was inclined to dismiss the notion of challenging for what would look the obvious target for his charge, the Galway Hurdle.
“I hate running horses on firm ground over jumps”, exclaimed Hughes. “If they were to extensively water at Galway then we might consider it.
“Davy said the ground was perfect this evening. I will let him off for a few weeks now, but would love to run this horse on the flat.”
Mill House Girl tried to make all, but Farmer Brown eased past at the second last and Russell didn’t have to be in any way hard on him to score by a snug length and a quarter.
The McSweeney Arms Maiden Hurdle produced a terrific battle between the market-leaders, Ballycullen Boy and Irish Invader.
They went toe-to-toe from before the final flight and it was Irish Invader who looked the most likely to win half way up the run in.
But David Casey conjured a terrific late spurt from Ballycullen Boy to score by a short head.
The winner is one of only two horses trained by Maureen Danagher, close to Limerick racecourse. Commented Danagher: “He loves good ground and will probably go chasing now.”
Casey completed a double with another whirlwind finish on Charlie Swan’s On The Other Hand in the Philip O’Connor Construction Handicap Chase.
Casey threw everything at his mount on the run in and was rewarded when grabbing Lotomore Lad late for half a length success.
Swan wasn’t at the meeeting, but owner, J P McManus, was represented by racing manager, Frank Berry. “He’s getting the hang of things and will go for another handicap”, reported Berry.
Those who waded in at the very short odds on offer about Dermot Weld’s In A Rush, in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Fillies Median Auction Maiden, had reason to regret their bravery.
Pat Smullen soon had her in front, but she had no answer to the late surge of Tommy Stack’s Provider, who quickened away in style inside the furlong pole.
Stack’s son, Fozzy, said: “She grew a lot since last year, but has taken time to come to herself. She is very honest and will now go for a fillies handicap over seven furlongs or a mile.”
In contrast anyone who availed of the 25-1 on offer about Constantine in the morning, and there were plenty, had reason to smile after the grey had won the Beginners Chase.
Admittedly, they had to suffer a large Rule 4, because of the defection of Conna Castle in particular, but his supporters were still ahead of the game, Constantine being returned at 15-2.
He jumped ahead over the third last, but was almost carried out by a loose horse heading to the final fence.
Ken Whelan managed to manoeuvre round, but then the loose horse ran across him at the obstacle. In the end it all worked out and Constantine got clear to beat Dreux by four lengths.
Michael Halford saddled his fourth winner of the campaign when Another Jayjay landed the Killarney Vintners’ Handicap.
Powerfully handled by Rory Cleary, the seasonal debutante made just about all to beat Famous Seamus by a length.
Dermot Weld struck for the first time this week when well-backed 7-2 favourite Gentleman Jeff and Shane Gorey got the best of a tough battle with Family Focus to win the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Handicap.