Leader revels in testing conditions

GLENROCK Leader revelled in the testing conditions to land the Grade 3 Ladbrokes.com Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle on the third day of the Limerick Christmas meeting yesterday.

Winner of his maiden at Punchestown before falling in a hot novice event, Tom Curran’s strapping son of Supreme Leader ploughed through the Limerick mire to land the spoils for Jessica Harrington and in-form Andrew Leigh.

In front turning for home, Leigh’s mount shook of the attentions of Scavenger between the last two flights before Sigma Digital stayed on stoutly to get within a length and a half of the winner.

Glenrock Leader, a five-year-old that will be sent over fences next season, will continue to campaign in staying novice events for the remainder of this campaign, with soft ground a necessity.

Always a force at this meeting, local trainer Eric McNamara saddled Bellflower Boy to justify favouritism in the Woodlands House Hotel Handicap Hurdle.

The progressive four-year-old was completing a hat-trick and defying a mandatory 4lb. penalty picked up when scoring convincingly at Thurles last Sunday.

Ridden by Kevin Coleman, Bellflower Boy cruised into the lead approaching the second last flight but, as the testing conditions took their toll, he had to battle to keep Darazari River at bay.

McNamara looked set for further success when Carraig Na Gcapall edged past front-running longshot Neighbours Wager at the second last fence in the Irish Independent Mares Beginners Chase.

But Paddy Flood’s mare was toiling when a little deliberate at the last.

Neighbours Wager, rallying well for Garrett Cotter, landed running, got her head back in front and forged clear to triumph by four lengths for trainer Ger Ahern.

Earlier, Paddy Flood enjoyed better fortune when scoring on the Peter Casey-trained Jack The Bus in the Eventus Maiden Hurdle.

A Fairyhouse bumper winner but off the track for nine months, Jack The Bus edged past favourite Virginia Preuil before the second last flight and stayed on in the style of a young horse with an engine to triumph by four lengths.

Paddy Flood completed a double when Conem, a course winner over hurdles and wearing blinkers for the first time, defied top-weight in the Advanced Securities Handicap Chase.

The Willie Austin-trained seven-year-old, clearly helped by blinkers, bolted up, slamming Sandyzar and looking a horse to watch if he turns up in a similar handicap next week under a mandatory penalty.

Johnny Allen enjoyed a welcome success when Zephyr Lilly, trainer by Pat Cody, emerged best in the Ryans Event Cleaners 3-Y-0 Maiden Hurdle, surviving a last flight blunder to beat For Real with Imperial Hills third after making a costly mistake when challenging at the penultimate hurdle.

Sharon Dunphy gave 2/1 favourite No Toll an enterprising ride to land the bumper for trainer Philip Fenton and recoup losses incurred at Clonmel last time.

She sent No Toll clear with more than six furlongs to race and, despite tiring in the closing stages, the gelding won unchallenged and will now go hurdling.

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