Impressive Defy Logic cut to 20/1 for Neptune

On a day when Aintree-bound Seabass made a hugely encouraging return to action, hurdling debutant Defy Logic and Rock Critic enhanced their credentials as exciting novices with victories in Fairyhouse yesterday.

A wide-margin winner of his bumper at Fairyhouse back in November, Defy Logic (Mark Walsh) proved a very impressive winner of the Great Value Corporate Hospitality Maiden Hurdle.

Paul Nolan’s charge, sent off 4/6 favourite, was soon in front, racing keenly. He jumped fluently, tracked all the way by his only serious market rival Mad Brian. Turning for home, his nearest rival was struggling and was making no impression on the winner when blundering and unseating his rider at the final obstacle.

Defy Logic was left to win, unchallenged, by thirty-four lengths from Raise Hell and his trainer declared: “I’m delighted he has that done. I knew he’d have to run to a high mark to win. I’m glad it’s over. I must sir down and talk to Frank (Berry) about plans for him. He still has a bit to learn, jumping-wise. But it’s great to have him.”

Both Boylesports (from 33) and Stan James (from 25) cut Defy Logic to 20/1 for the Neptune Investments Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Dermot Weld was slow to commit Rock Critic to Cheltenham following his smooth success over Seabass and odds-on favourite Make Your Mark in the opening Racegoers Package Hurdle.

Winner of his only previous start over hurdles — at the Galway Festival — Rock Critic (Robbie McNamara) jumped particularly well as he tracked odds-on favourite Make Your Mark. In front before the second last, Rock Critic was soon in command and stretched clear, before Seabass came through to fill the runner-up berth, beaten three-and-a-quarter lengths.

“He did what I thought he’d do,” declared Weld. “He knows his job and jumps like a stag. It wasn’t the plan to be so close to the pace. But he pinged every hurdle. I have no plan for this horse. He’s entered for Cheltenham but I think he might be a horse for Fairyhouse and Punchestown. I’ll have to discuss it with his owner.”

Having jumped deliberately at the first few flights, Seabass, having his first run since last’s year’s John Smiths Grand National in Aintree, stayed on stoutly in the closing stages.

Trainer Ted Walsh declared: “That was a great run. He seems as good as ever and will have one more run before going back to Aintree. He could come back here for the Bobbyjo, go for the race he won in Naas last year or run in the Racing Post Chase. I just hope his legs are okay in the morning.”

Odds-on players were stung again when front-running Grey Monk (Andrew Lynch) had no answer to Balnagor Boy in the closing stages of the Book On-Line @ Fairyhouse.ie For Special Offers Maiden Hurdle.

The Adrian Heskin-ridden Balnagor Boy provided Irish Grand National winning trainer Tom Gibney with a welcome winner, as he explained: “The horses were very sick back in October and a lot of them ran badly over Christmas. Hopefully, this is a good sign. I thought he’d run well, without beating the favourite. I’m not sure where he’ll go next.”

In the handicap action, the Noel Brett-trained Dactik proved his liking for the inside track at Fairyhouse when surviving a last-flight blunder to win the Tote Sports Lounge Novice Handicap Hurdle in the hands of Paul Carberry. It was Dactik’s third success at the County Meath track this season.

The well-beaten favourite Romanesco, having his first run in the Gigginstown colours, was reported to have hung badly throughout by Davy Russell and was later found to have a respiratory tract infection.

Trainer Jim Culloty wasn’t present to see his Smart Money (Robbie Power) prevail over favourite Quartetto and Passing Through in a three-way photo-finish to the Follow Fairyhouse On Facebook Handicap Hurdle.

After Twin Plan proved a 12/1 winner of the Make A Wish Challenge Handicap Hurdle, James Lambe stated: “Liam (his stepson Liam McKenna) gave her a great ride. She won a point-to-point last time, but I thought that ground might be very heavy for her. She’ll be better on better ground and her future lies over fences.”

The mares bumper provided County Tipperary handler Harry Kelly with further success when Railway Zira, off the track since disappointing in Galway back in September, proved too strong for Dantes Firth, scoring convincingly by ten lengths.

“She wasn’t right in Galway, but we think an awful lot of her,” explained a delighted Kelly. “She has a bit of class and the good ones seem to handle any ground. I’m not sure whether she’ll run in of the better mares bumpers or go hurdling. I must talk to her owners.”

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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