Hidden Cyclone battles to victory

HIDDEN CYCLONE continued his rise up the ranks with a gusty display to land the Grade 2 Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles yesterday.

Andrew McNamara had Hidden Cyclone on the heels of the leaders for most of the journey and then sent him into the lead approaching the third last.

Pineau De Re was a threat all the way up the straight, but the imposing winner kept pulling it out and was nicely on top at the line to win by two and a half lengths.

Trainer, Shark Hanlon, reported: “He was good, but his jumping again let him down a little. He idled a bit after the last. Andrew said he didn’t like the track and that they didn’t go hard enough for him. I wasn’t going to run the horse again this season, but think I will now for the experience.

“He could go to Navan in three weeks, or wait for Aintree. I believe he is good and jumping fences will be his game next season.’’

Willie Mullins’ Bishopsfurze, ridden by Paul Townend, went off a well-backed favourite, but was very disappointing and his technique again left plenty to be desired.

Mullins and Townend began their day badly when odds-on Quiscover Fontaine bit the dust in the Cashel Chase.

Paddy Flood grabbed the initiative from the start, sending Desssie Hughes’ In Compliance into a clear lead.

Quiscover Fontaine was closing, but still four or five lengths down, when falling two out, leaving the winner to come home on his own.

“That was great, he is back to himself,” said Hughes. “He will now join Vic Venturi in the Grand National at Aintree.’’

Hughes and Flood were deprived of a double when Shirley Casper failed to get to grips with Aura About You in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Mares Beginners Chase.

She arrived with every chance in the straight, but the winner was far too strong, shooting clear in the hands Michael Doran to score by three lengths.

Trainer Paul Nolan was represented by his brother, James, who said: “She wasn’t showing much sparkle before running here the last day. Since then, she has woken up at home and may now go to Limerick on the Sunday prior to Cheltenham, or else wait for Fairyhouse.’’

The Mullins-Townend combination clicked when Celtic Folklore strolled away with the Killinan Maiden Hurdle.

He made most of the running and only had to be nudged out to beat Zagman by a comfortable four lengths.

Commented Mullins: “He gallops all day and jumps well. We will find a winners’ of one before the spring festivals.”

Gillian O’Callaghan, who trains six horses at Capranny in Co Meath, saddled her first winner when well-supported Mount Benbulben took the Bumper.

He shot away from the two furlong pole, under Andrew Duff, to beat the uneasy Willie Mullins-trained favourite, Mozoltov.

O’Callaghan, who only took out a licence in November, said: “I’m not sure what will be next and will talk to the owner.’’

Another easy winner was John Murphy’s 16-1 chance Whatsabillion, who grabbed the Prime Beef Handicap Hurdle by nine lengths.

He was capably handled by 18-year-old Girvan Sheehan from Dunmanway in Co Cork. It was a first winner for Sheehan, although he has two in the point-to-point fields.

The three miles of the Ballycahill Beginners Chase took some getting and it was Another Flutter who was best equipped to slog his way to success. Partnered by Lenny Flynn, Another Flutter forged ahead over two out to easily beat the flattering West Ship Master.

Picture: Runners and riders on the first circuit of the Ballycahill Beginners Steeplechase: Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

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