Victory went to the Ruby Walsh-ridden favourite Noble Inn by two and three-quarter lengths, the pair finishing eighteen lengths clear of the third. Walsh commented: “You’d have to be happy with that. It was a professional performance. They are two more than reasonable horses.
“My fellow’s jumping got better as we went along and he should improve plenty from the experience.”
Walsh was out of luck later when Passahe Vendome, also trained by Mullins, looked set to complete a double in the Follow Ballinrobe On Facebok Beginners Chase but fell when apparently in command at the final fence, leaving Nearest The Pin to beat Usa and gain an overdue chase success.
Nearest The Pin was ridden by Barry Geraghty for Tony Martin, who stated: “If ever a horse deserved a change of luck, this was him. It’s great that he got the rub of the green for the lads (the Sox Syndicate). It wasn’t ideal coming here with him, but we got away with it. He’ll be a better horse on a more galloping track, when he can use his jumping and size.”
The finale of the 2013 season in Ballinrobe, the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase also produced late drama as Pat Garrett — which had made all — was clear when crashing at the second last fence, leaving Saturday’s Listowel winner Shantalla (Brian Cawley) to triumph for Donie Hassettt, holding on by a half-length from Close Review.
Minella For Value, described by his owner-trainer John Nallen as “the horse that nobody wanted” also followed-up a Listowel success when capturing the Ballinrobe Race Committee Chase at the expense of Fantastic Gold.
“He’s honest and kept galloping,” said Nallen. “He needs good ground and, all going well, he’ll go to Mallow for the Cork National.”
Two trainers who have enjoyed a share of luck at the County Mayo venue, Joanna Morgan and Dessie McDonogh, were on the mark again, with Ancient Sands and World Citizen respectively.
“It’s definitely my favourite track in all the world,” was Morgan’s bold statement after Ancient Sands (Andrew McNamara) overturned market rival Luimneach Abu in the Ballinrobe Racecourse Of The Year Handicap Hurdle.
She added: “I seldom go home empty-handed from here. This is a nice genuine horse, with the scope to jump fences, but not until next summer.”
Later, after World Citizen’s win under Jody McGarvey in a division of the 80-95 handicap hurdle, McDonogh explained: “Ballinrobe has always been good to me, even in the old days — it was the only track in the country that let me gallop Monksfield !”
The other division of this event went to the Susan Finn-trained Vicalus, under a patient ride by Bryan Cooper.
Denis Cullen enjoyed a welcome success when May Dullea, owned by the Glending Syndicate, came from well off the pace under Mick Darcy to beat Our Maimie in the mares maiden hurdle.