Less than 48 hours after being removed to Blanchardstown Hospital with a suspected fractured pelvis following a fall from An Cathaoir Mor here on Monday, Casey made a triumphant return and proving himself fit and ready to partner Snowy Morning in Saturday’s John Smith Grand National, in Aintree.
Given the all-clear after x-ray on Monday evening and fresh from a single day off, Casey guided Boulavogue, in the colours of Noel O'Flaherty, to his first win since Listowel in September 2008.
And winning trainer Charlie Swan was enthusiastic in his praise for both Casey and the horse, explaining: “I’d have to give David ten out of ten for a super tactical ride. In ground like that, when there's no pace, it suits horses to be handy. And David got it just right, although I suppose the result will confuse the handicapper!”
Swan added: “This horse has been called a few names in the past. But he’s dead genuine and very consistent. He’s just been very unlucky and deserved a change of luck. He'll probably have a holiday after this, or he could run over fences in the new season.”
Ruby Walsh, who completed a superb four-timer on Monday, left for Aintree on the back of an easy win on board odds-on favourite Askmeroe in the Broad Meadow Beginners Chase.
A third winner of the meeting for Tony Martin, the 8/11 shot made all, jumped soundly and readily drew clear of South Liberties between the last two fences to triumph by 21 lengths.
Martin said: “I’m delighted for the lads, Aidan Shiels (owner of the Irish Rover pub in New York) and Niall Reilly. They’re great supporters of the yard and are home from America to see him win. He jumped very well and couldn't have done any more. He bends his knee and liked that ground. And we have lots of options with him now.”
Andrew McNamara, who bagged the last running of the Irish Grand National under the Powers banner on Monday and is set to partner Ballyholland at Aintree on Saturday, recorded his third win of the meeting when Benash, a welcome winner for trainer John Carr, won the Ratoath Maiden Hurdle convincingly from the consistent but luckless Johnnyofcourse.
“He’s a fair horse in soft ground. In fact, the softer the better for him.” stated Carr. “He won his bumper well and ran a good race at Navan the last day. He might go for a ‘winners of one’ on the Wednesday of Punchestown before he gets a summer break. And he’ll go chasing next season. I’m delighted for his owner Jimmy Hepburn. He’s in his eighties and came over from Glasgow to see him win today.”
Pat Colville won the opening Ballyhack Maiden Hurdle with the Philip Enright-ridden Day Of Destiny, which stepped up significantly on his previous efforts to beat Yeomanry comfortably by eight lengths.
Colville admitted: “We’ve found it hard to settle him at home and in his two previous runs. On that ground, he did it a lot better than I expected and handled the ground better than I thought. He’s the first horse I’ve trained for the owners, the Williams brothers from Edinburgh.”
Rock Diplomat, relishing the extremely testing ground conditions (three of the fences omitted), finally opened his account over fences when winning the Royal County Handicap Chase at the expense of Lydon House.
Ridden by Robbie Power, who knows the ten-year-old well, he took command on the approach to the final fence to record only his second career success.
Rock Diplomat is trained locally by Michael Cunningham, who explained, “He loves bottomless ground. That’s the key to him. The day he won his maiden hurdle in Naas, it was barley raceable. He's one-paced and runs out of puff in his races, but normally comes home well. Robbie gave him a breather today. And that probably made the difference.”
Crossgar-based Colin McBratney, who will saddle Galway Plate winner Ballyholland in the National on Saturday, received a timely boost when newcomer Sydney Des Pictons, ridden by Mark O’Hare, proved a shock winner of the four-year-old bumper, getting the better of well-backed favourite Samain (4/1 - 9/4).
Bought by Harold Kirk and running in the colours of the Northern Star Syndicate, the French-bred 20/1 shot raced wide throughout and forged ahead inside the final furlong when the favourite appeared to idle in front before rallying close home. Only a neck separated them at the line.
McBratney said: “He’s a nice horse and had done plenty of work. But you never know how a four-year-old will cope with that ground, particularly first time. Mark gave him a great ride. He was patient, stayed wide and told me that he was always happy on him.
“It was a game performance and he’ll probably need soft ground, but not that bad. The plan is to give him a break over the summer and bring him back over hurdles.”
Earlier, Tullachsarain, trained by John Woods and ridden by Paul Power, provided another northern success, holding the late challenge of Cochise in the Fegentri World Championship Amateur Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old, owned by Philip White, was a second career winner for Paul Power (23), who is based with Henry de Bromhead.