Coolcashin likely to stay hurdling after shock success

THE Michael Bowe-trained Coolcashin sprang a 25-1 shock in the Grade 3 ladbrokes.com Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday.

In doing so he gave 27-year-old pilot, Keith Clarke, his biggest success to date. Clarke comes from Drumree, not far from the course, and this was his 13th winner.

He smashed a leg at Down Royal in June of 2005 and was told he would never ride again. Clarke fought his way back, however, although he has 2 plates and 11 screws in the particular leg.

Coolcahsin just about held the call over the second last and when the challenging Essex got in tight to the final flight that was to prove decisive.

Essex rallied strongly on the flat, but could never quite get on terms and was a head down at the line.

“He’s a nice horse, Keith gave him a super ride and his 7lbs claim made a big difference”, said Bowe.

“A year ago he suffered a bad fracture to his fetlock joint and I thought was heading for Heaven. But Troytown (veterinary hospital) did a great job with him.

“I could hardly get out of the bed at Christmas, things were going so badly with my horses. I was tempted to bring Limestone Lad back!

“I felt this was going to be Coolcashin’s last run over hurdles, but might try and pick up another one or two now. Chasing is his game.”

Serpentaria was long odds-on, in the opening The Keelings’ Irish Strawberry Hurdle, and hardly broke sweat on her way to victory.

Normally a front runner, she was held up by Ruby Walsh mindful, one imagines, that this was her first time tackling three miles!

Serpentaria cruised ahead shortly after the second last and would have scored with even more in hand, but for getting it wrong at the final flight. Trainer, Willie Mullins, said: “Hopefully, she will go for the mares race (Grade 3) at Punchestown. Then it will be back on the flat, she has not had a busy season.”

Mullins and Walsh completed a double when Taipan’s Way easily won the William Fry Novice Handicap Chase. He was galloping over this opposition throughout and Walsh allowed him lead five from home. From that point it was a case of keeping him up to his work.

“He’s improving and the change in ground is helping”, said Mullins. “He will head to Punchestown, but I bought him as a National horse for Mr Hemmings (owner) and he will be trained for Aintree next season.”

Walsh then proceeded to boot home his second treble in two days when guiding Lochan Lacha to victory in the Avon Ri Stanley MacAdam Company Novice Handicap Chase.

The race changed dramatically at the penultimate obstacle when the hitherto sweet-jumping Stewarts House got it all wrong and Walsh immediately grabbed the initiative to send Lochan Lacha clear.

The decision to give Big Zeb a pop over flights reaped a decent dividend when Colm Murphy’s charge brushed aside heavily-backed favourite, Psycho, in the King Crisps Hurdle.

Barry Geraghty committed the winner heading to three out and Big Zeb swept to the front. Psycho was soon giving chase, but was always held and there was a length and a quarter between them at the line.

Reported Murphy: “He’s back on track again and that’s more like the Big Zeb we know. It was disappointing he fell in his last two races, but he will return to fences now at Punchestown.”

Dessie Hughes’ Tofino Bay, successful at Maralin back in November, made a solid start on the racecourse when landing the Gigginstown House Stud Point-to-Point Bumper.

Powered ahead over a furlong down by Katie Walsh, the son of Bishop Of Cashel eased clear to beat Ad Idem.

“He’s a nice horse and I gave him a chance, he had been working well”, revealed Hughes.

In the concluding hunters chase, the Jimmy Mangan trained Rudi Trucker benefited from a strong Jamie Codd drive to get the best of a terrific battle from the last with Freneys Well.

The attendance was 15,076, down from 15,726 last year.

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