The seven-year-old, 9lb. higher than last year and wearing a tongue tie for the first time, came from off the pace, cruised into the lead after the second last and stretched clear to slam Clarkey by seven and a half lengths, justifying hefty support from 4/1 to 11/4.
Moore explained: “Good ground is crucial for him and he likes this track. It’s nice to get his head in front after running consistently all year. He’ll go back chasing now in Listowel.”
Russell completed a double when Whiskey And Red, a first winner in more than two years for trainer Paul Roche, landed the Willie Murphy Jewellers Handicap Hurdle at the expense of Baby’s Hot.
Bobbina, trained locally by Brian Hamilton, ran out a convincing winner of the mares maiden hurdle, beating Cool Annie and market rival Chiltern Hills, which again jumped erratically.
The winning trainer said: “Andrew felt that she didn’t like going up and down the hills, that she’d be better on a galloping track. She won well and the aim is to get her listed-placed.”
The Oliver Brady-trained, 79-rated, Flamenco Prince, a sixty-five race maiden (in all codes) proved a 66/1 shocker in the Fran Murrin Memorial Maiden Hurdle.
Flamenco Prince was ridden by Ryan Treacy (18), from County Fermanagh, who, on his only previous ride on the racecourse, had triumphed on One Cool Shabra at Bellewstown in July. Riding then as an amateur, he was subsequently banned for a total of twenty-one days for improper riding and his use of the whip.
No such problems on this occasion as Treacy, now riding as a 7lb.-claiming professional and having his first ride over hurdles, got Flamenco Prince home by a half-length from King Malik.
“That’s the way I like them to win, not by ten lengths,” declared a jubilant Paul Magnier after Bryan Cooper produced Rare Symphony with a perfectly-timed challenge to foil front-running Ta Blazes by a neck in the mares handicap hurdle.
“I only have six horses, so every winner is important,” added Magnier, who will consider running Rare Symphony, a versatile Pastoral Pursuit mare, in the Profound Beauty Fillies Handicap at the Curragh on Sunday.
In flying form at the last two Dundalk meetings, trainer Michael Halford was on the mark again when Robbie Power partnered Ridayef to victory in the opening Down District Council Maiden Hurdle, at the expense of Westhaven.
Halford’s representative Garrett Cotter commented: “His owners have been rewarded for their patience. This was the first time he got his ground and, with a bit of luck, he might win a handicap off his current mark.”
In a thrilling three-way battle for the bumper, the Philip Rothwell-trained 25/1 newcomer Bottle Rattler, strongly ridden by Gillian Hayes, got up to pip Balboni by a short-head with Waylander a close third.