O’Connell, who shrugged off the criticism by stating: “As far as I’m concerned, the tactics were right,” produced third reserve Barney King to lead between the last two flights before landing the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle for former Champion Hurdle winning trainer John Carr.
“He showed promise first time before disappointing us, so we gave him a break. The better ground helped him a lot,” explained Carr.
The O’Connell double was complete when Caim Hill, a stable-companion of Dunguib, recorded a smooth success in the Baileys Irish Cream Beginners Chase, beating Bear Witness readily by four lengths. Caim Hill, a decent novice hurdler before losing his way, relished the drying ground to give O’Connell and Philip Fenton a welcome boost.
Teenager Adrian Heskin crowned the best twenty-four hours of his blossoming career when guiding One Cool Cookie to victory in the featured Guinness Chase, the Charlie Swan-trained nine-year-old completing back-to-backs wins in the event.
One Cool Cookie’s task was eased significantly when the British raider and favourite Air Force One crashed at the fifth last, leaving One Cool Cookie to defeat Selection Box convincingly, after the runner-up threatened between the last two fences. The winner was a first outside ride for Heskin (17), from Kilworth, County Cork, who is based with Michael Hourigan.
Amateur Michael Doran savoured only his second racecourse success when Earth And Sky, trained by Paul Nolan, won the Gordons Gin Beginners Chase, being left clear when market rival Rookery Rebel at the second last when upsides the winner.
Earth And Sky, which beat The Paddy Premium by fourteen lengths, was completing an across-the-card double for trainer Paul Nolan, successful at Wexford with Point Of Light. After a couple of disappointing runs, the Edward O’Grady-trained Having A Cut returned to winning form in the Bushmills Irish Whiskey Hunters Chase, from which likely favourite Agus A Vic was an absentee.
Tommy McGivern saddled Clonbur (a major morning gamble from 20/1 and sent off 3/1) to win the bumper under Jason McKeown, prompting his trainer to explain: “He finished alongside Rite Of Passage in a schooling bumper so we knew he was useful. We might have a crack at a winners’ bumper at either Aintree or Punchestown now.”
Christophe Soumillon has been booked to ride Japanese contender Red Desire, asshort as 8-1 for the inaugural Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday week.
The Belgian replaces Olivier Peslier, who partnered the four-year-old filly to a stunning last-gasp success in the third round of the Maktoum Challenge on Super Thursday.
Peslier is committed to French-trained favourite Vision D'Etat in the $10m feature.
Soumillon has enjoyed a lucrative association with trainer Mike de Kock at the Dubai Carnival but the South African released the rider when it looked as if he would not be represented in the 1m2f event.
Ironically, however, dual carnival winners Mr Brock and Lizard's Desire have both been invited to the World Cup and are set to take their chance. "Christophe had the opportunity and I was not going to stand in his way as we did not whether we would have a runner," said De Kock.