Walsh back in winning groove

RUBY WALSH made a spectacular return to race-riding in Ireland when powering Scotsirish to a clear-cut success in the featured Grade 2 O’Connell Logistics Hilly Way Chase at Cork yesterday.

“It’s great to ride a winner, especially after watching Mikael d’Haguenet doing it so well at Navan”, reported Walsh.

The hugely exciting Mikael d’Haguenet, of course, like Scotsirish, is trained by Willie Mullins, who opted to go to Navan, where he had three winners in all.

It was as if the champion jockey had never been away, waiting with typical confidence towards the rear, as Knight Legend took them along.

Scotsirish, however, was always travelling supremely well and gradually edged closer to the leaders through the last mile.

He landed in front over three out and was all of four lengths clear of morning-price gamble, Wanango, when that one and Tony McCoy went their separate ways at the last.

“That was a very good performance, they went a hell of a gallop”, said Walsh. “He clearly just didn’t stay three miles at Thurles last time.

“I was in front an hour too soon, but it made no difference. You’d imagine he could turn up at Christmas, but after that has loads of options.”

The Tom Nagle-trained The Bishop Looney, fresh from winning his maiden on this track, stepped way up in class to land the Grade 3 O’Connell Transport Cork Stayers’ Novice Hurdle.

It was an impressive performance by the four-year-old, who stayed on doggedly in the hands of Tom Doyle.

The winner edged ahead going to the second last and, despite being awkward at the final flight, stayed on in fine style to beat the equally promising Part Presenting.

Commented Nagle: “I thought Tom would be encouraging me not to run, but he said we should. I don’t think he will be seen over Christmas and may wait for the Slaney Hurdle at Naas in January.”

Disappointment of the contest was Pomme Tiepy. Backed from evens to 4-5, she tried to make all, but had little left once tackled by The Bishop Looney.

The layers got a screamer when 25-1 shot Hill Fairy made a winning start over fences in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase.

“I knew she jumped well, but couldn’t fancy her on the ground”, said owner-trainer, John Morrison.

There was certainly no fluke about the victory, the daughter of Monsun cruising ahead for Kevin Coleman coming away from the third last to score with any amount in hand. “She will stick to mares chases”, said Morrison.

Charles Byrnes’ Carthalawn ran out a decisive winner of the Mallow Handicap Hurdle in the hands of Davy Russell.

Six lengths was the verdict, after Russell had allowed him ease ahead over the second from home.

“He ran well at Thurles the last day and Davy felt he would win a handicap off his mark”, said Byrnes. “He will probably go to Leopardstown at Christmas for another two mile handicap.”

Zarinava redeemed the promise of her second to The Last Derby in the fog at Fairyhouse with an easy win in the JBC Maiden Hurdle.

Confidently handled by Robert Power, she skipped right away in the closing stages to beat Cheekyface.

Eamonn Leigh, travelling head-man, represented trainer, Jessica Harrington, and said: “She will probably go for a winners’ of one at Christmas. She is getting better with her jumping, but we were a little worried about the ground.”

Paul Nolan’s largely unconsidered newcomer, the 12-1 shot Golden Sunbird, sent some decent wagers heading west when beating The Book Thief, evens to 4-6, by a comfortable length and three parts in the Bumper.

It was a first success as an amateur for 23-years-old David Boland, who has four other winners as a professional under his belt, two of them in England for Ian Williams.

“She was working grand at home, but had never been away and we were just hoping for the best”, said Nolan.

Philip Enright continued his recent good run when driving Blaise Hollow to victory in the Newmarket Novice Handicap Hurdle.

He produced his charge to strike the front at the last to beat Wicklow Lad a hard-earned head.

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