Lady dances to Geraghty’s tune

JACKSONSLADY, trained and partly-owned by Philip Dempsey, proved best in the listed Grabel Mares Hurdle on the opening day of Punchestown’s winter season.

Ridden by Barry Geraghty, the six-year-old wore down longtime leader and 25/1 shot Bleakfeld on the approach to the final flight before drawing clear to triumph by six lengths, with Elyaadi third.

Short-priced favourite Chaperoned dropped away tamely to finish a distant sixth while Shadow Eile, second choice in then market, faded quickly going to the second last and was pulled up.

Jacksonslady is owned in partnership by Noel Farrell, Philip Smith and trainer Dempsey, who said: “She’s a decent filly and did it great. It’s a smashing race to win. There’s a temptation to keep her going. But we’ll probably leave her off until the spring. And we have limited opportunities with her, because she’s not EBF-eligible.’’

Off the track since disappointing, when favourite for a Fairyhouse bumper last Easter, Sword Of Destiny continued Noel Meade’s rich vein of form when justifying 11/8 favouritism in the Follow Punchestown On Facebook Maiden Hurdle.

The grey Shantou gelding, always close to the pace, travelled strongly under Davy Russell eased into the lead after the second last flight before drawing clear to score, easily, by 12 lengths from Minella For Value.

“This fellow could be anything,’’ Meade said. “He was ready for today, but not over-fit and will improve. But he jumps great, goes through winter ground and stays well. Two and a half miles is a minimum for him. And Davy, who doesn’t get enthusiastic very often, was impressed.’’

Russell again donned the Gigginstown House Stud colours on 10/11 favourite Stonemaster for his fencing debut in the Trinity College Racing Dublin Racing Society Beginners Chase.

But Dessie Hughes’ charge had to settle for the runner-up berth, behind convincing winner On The Way Out, ridden for John Kiely by Andrew McNamara.

On The Way Out, officially rated 14lb inferior to Stonemaster over hurdles, jumped soundly, with the exception of one mistake, and quickened past Unanswered to record a four-and-a-quarter lengths win over the favourite.

Kiely said: “That was a nice start. He has always been a class horse, but went up the handicap too quickly over hurdles. Hopefully that won’t happen again.”

Gordon Elliott won the opening Go Racing In Kildare Festival 3-Y-0 Maiden Hurdle, not with the Davy Russell-ridden 7/4 favourite His Execllency but with 20/1 shot Face Value, partnered by Davy Condon.

Having his first run for Elliott, the Toobougg gelding, bought at the Newmarket July Sales for just £1,200, came from off the pace to thwart the plucky Hollymount King by two lengths.

Elliott said: “He’s a grand horse that we bought out of Brian Meehan’s for very little. The other horse (His Excellency) works much better at home. But Davy said he was very green and got a bit tired. Hopefully, he’ll be alright.”

Burnt Oil Babe, trained in County Carlow by Willie Murphy, landed the For Better Value Handicap Chase in the hands of Ruby Walsh, foiling a couple of JP McManus-owned contenders Good Decision and Smoking Aces.

Murphy said: “It’s bad luck on Barry Cash, who couldn’t do the weight on her. I told Ruby not to get there too soon. And I was worried when she hit the front. But she’s a good mare and was probably well-handicapped today.

“I’m hoping there might be a nice race in her somewhere. And, if she keeps climbing, she could be a mare for the ‘Paddy Power’ at Leopardstown.”

Off the track since April, Andunowhat provided owner Carmel Kierans with her first success when proving best in the For Raceday Offers Mares Flat Race.

A daughter of Old Vic, Andunowhat looked in trouble turning for home, when chasing the leaders, but stayed on stoutly under Ambrose McCurtin to beat newcomer Ms Bliss by two lengths. “She stays all day,” said winning trainer John Joe Walsh.

Disqualified, on appeal, after scoring at Roscommon in August, the Brian Hamilton-trained Wither Hills gained some compensation when defying top-weight under Andrew Lynch in the Lewis-Crosby Challenge Handicap Hurdle, forging ahead on the run-into beat Monahullan Prince.

“That’s good for the owners — they got a few quid back!” said Hamilton, “The ground was too dead for him in Listowel the last day. And it’s good to win with him before the ground changes. We’re thinking about jumping fences with him. But he just gets two miles and needs decent ground. So we’ll see what happens.”

Picture: Burnt Oil Babe and Ruby Walsh Jump Win The Punchestown handicap Steeplechase (Photo HEALY RACING)

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