You couldn’t say he was overly impressive in beating Alice Bradys Call by a length and a quarter but was, nevertheless, always in charge from the final flight.
Partnered with real confidence by Emmet Mullins, Quiscover Fontaine came from well off the pace to lead at the last and only had to be pushed out in the closing stages to score comfortably.
Trainer-Mullins was late for the race, but later reported: “He’s a horse who has improved a lot and Emmet knows him well.
“I’ve been keeping him to two miles on this ground, but he wants further. The Purcell Hurdle (Feb.26) at Thurles might be his next run.
“He’s in all the novice races at Cheltenham, but if going to Thurles then I’d say will stay at home.”
Emmet Mullins completed a double with a powerful performance on Jimmy Mangan’s Whinstone Boy in the two miles and three Annual Members’ Raceday Handicap Hurdle.
Dashing George made a lot of the running, but was just run out of it by the winner, the verdict a neck.
For young Mullins it was his tenth success as a professional and his second double as a pro.
Said Mangan: “This horse is no world-beater, but is tough and staying is his game. Emmet’s 5lbs claim was a big help.”
Sean Flanagan, who rode Merry Cowboy in this contest, was suspended for a day, having been found guilty of using his whip with excessive frequency.
Later in the afternoon, Willie Mullins landed a double when easy-to-back Taipan’s Way ran out a smooth winner of the Munster By The Grace Of God Beginners Chase.
Ridden with patience by David Casey, the seven-year-old surged ahead between the final two fences to easily beat Whatever Next.
“He’s improving all the time, but I’m a little bit surprised at how well he handled the ground”, reported Mullins. “Being by Taipan, I am looking forward to him in the spring.”
Eric McNamara’s Caola Mann cropped up at 16-1 in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle.
Kicked on early in the straight by Alain Cawley, she battled strongly to hold Kind Oscar by a length.
Said McNamara: “She’s been placed a good few times and gave a bit of leg trouble last season.
“But she came here fit and well and we will now try and find a three mile handicap somewhere, all she does is stay.”
Favourite Galant Ferns made a bad mistake four out, when tracking the leaders, and could never get competitive again after that.
Liam McAteer’s Celtic Strand, following two promising runs over flights, justified odds of 2-7 in the opening maiden hurdle.
Partnered by Andrew Lynch, the winner skipped on four out and had little trouble holding Ach Aye Surely in the straight.
Commented McAteer: “He’s a very small horse, but that was grand and he was entitled to do that. We won’t be talking about Cheltenham, but there are plenty of opportunities for him.”
The stewards inquired into the performance of third placed Jafra and noted the explanations offered, while advising rider, Paddy Flood, that he must be seen to be making a greater effort in his riding.
J P Holly, who rode fourth placed Jumpin Johnnie, failed to weigh in. He was suspended for two days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee.
When Zanwood was left in front two out, and soon went clear, defeat seemed out of the question in the two mile 2009 Annual Members’ Handicap Hurdle.
But, rather dramatically, he slowed to walk on the flat and both eventual winner, Yeoman, and Silent Rage quickly swept past.
Yeoman was a welcome turn for Galway handler, David Ryan, with his brother, Tom, doing the driving.
Robbie Dunne, despite putting up 2lbs overweight, produced 16-1 shot Publicize with impeccable timing to grab front-running Golden Kite at the last, easing clear on the flat to score by three lengths.