Gaspar leaves punters gasping

PUNTERS were left gasping for breath after 16-1 shot Gaspar, the outsider of the five runners, trounced his rivals in the Grade 3 Phil Sweeney Memorial Chase at a bitingly cold Thurles yesterday.

Dashingly handled by Michael Darcy, the James McAuley-trained eight-year-old made every yard of the running. He maintained a relentless gallop through the final mile, crossing the line comfortably ahead of Preists Leap.

Commented McAuley: “We didn’t expect to win, but he is a good genuine horse. I just hope Noel (O’Brien, handicapper) doesn’t go to town on him after this.”

Gemini Lucy went off favourite, but was very uneasy in the market. She chased the winner throughout, but was a well beaten third when unseating Andrew Leigh three from home.

Alexander Taipan missed the race, having pulled out lame in the morning.

Alphazar, a venerable 13-year-old, ran his rivals ragged in the Handicap Chase.

The teenager is almost as old as his 17-year-old pilot Emmet Mullins, who was enjoying a first success over fences. Alphazar jumped brilliantly, except for seriously guessing three from home, but was well in control in the closing stages.

“He likes Thurles and, hopefully, we will find another race here for him”, said Willie Mullins.

The Carlow handler was on the mark again when Sesenta took the Heineken W T O’Grady Memorial Hurdle, but there was a real smell of burning rubber in the air afterwards.

Mullins ran two and his other one, Dani California, was thumped from 1-2 to 1-4. Sesenta was much the stronger, however, powering ahead between thre last two flights for Davy Condon to beat the Ruby Walsh-partnered hot-pot.

Said Mullins: “She was my best jumper of all of our juveniles, I couldn’t believe it when she fell first time. She will be upped in grade now.”

Mullins completed a treble when Walsh gained compensation aboard Cooldine in the Cashel Maiden Hurdle.

He clearly came on plenty for his first two spins over flights, at Cork and Limerick, and this was a far better effort.

Cooldine made the long surge for home well before the straight and soon drew right away to beat Storm Breaker by six lengths.

Said Mullins: “He will go for a novice hurdle now. We were going to send him chasing, but he will stick to hurdling for the rest of the season.”

Siegemaster continued on the upgrade with an easy win in the INH Stallion Owners’ EBF Novice Hurdle.

He made a lot of the running for Davy Russell and appeared to have Ellas Cavallo’s measure when that one departed three out.

Commented trainer, Dessie Hughes: “He’s a three mile horse and will stick to staying novice hurdles.”

Pat Hughes had a welcome turn when saddling Rossbeigh to justify favouritism in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

Redeeming the promise of his second to Splurge at Punchestown, the winner edged on two out and was soon driven to a clear-cut victory by Robbie Moran.

Martin Lynch’s Oscar Time battled on in fine style for Colin Motherway to beat promising newcomer, Weapon’s Amnesty, half a length in the Bumper.

Oscar Time went off a well-backed favourite and will now go over hurdles, over two and a half miles plus, according to his handler, Martin Lynch.

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