Boris De Blae (4/1) and Rabunda moved past the favourite Minella Style on the run to three out. With Minella Style duly beaten in third when falling at the penultimate obstacle, Boris De Blae and Rabunda then quickened clear in scintillating fashion on the run to the final fence.
It was however Tom Keating’s Boris De Blae that was marginally on top inside the final 50 yards with Johnny Burke’s mount defeating Rabunda, trained by Vincent Halley, by a head with an 18-length break to the third-placed Knockyoursocksoff.
“I’ve always thought a lot of this fellow and he will be a nice horse with a summer’s grass,” said owner/trainer Keating of the Mahler-sired Boris De Blae, whom he bought at last year’s DBS May sale.
Proceedings concluded with the judge unable to separate Armarissis (7/2) and Keep Back (evens) in the confined hunts maiden and he duly awarded a dead-heat between the pair who overtook long-time leader My Silver Cloud before the last en-route to drawing eight lengths clear of the pacesetter.
The consistent Armarissis was partnered by Eoin O’Sullivan for his father Eugene whilst Richie Harding was aboard the relatively lightly-raced Keep Back for his sister Marie Harding.
There was further drama in the second division of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden with Wild Bill (7/2), whom Ger Hourigan trains for his wife Alma, staying on stoutly under Corky Carroll to beat Derek O’Connor’s mount Marvellous Moment by a half-length. Marvellous Moment’s handler Jim Culloty however lodged an objection alleging interference in the closing stages, which was duly overruled by the stewards.
The first instalment of this same race witnessed another close finish with very little to separate Alemad and Iconic Image as they flashed across the line seemingly locked together. The judge eventually announced the verdict in favour of Alemad (10/1), trained in Co Wexford by Richard Rath and ridden by his brother James, with the ultimate winning margin being a short head over the Terence O’Brien-trained favourite Iconic Image.
Chris O’Donovan (18) from Shanballymore and his year-older sister Kate will treasure fond memories of the meeting as they combined for their initial career successes courtesy of former four-time track winner Optimus Prime (5/1) in the open lightweight. Owned and trained by Kate, a First Year Law and French student in UCC, Optimus Prime stormed past last month’s Cheltenham Foxhunters ninth Boxing Along at the penultimate obstacle to oblige by two lengths.
The grey Castlewhite (5/1) was a cut above her rivals with James Hannon in the five-year-old mares’ maiden while Robert Tyner consolidated his advantage at the head of the handlers’ championship by sending out Strange Talk (evens) to collect the mares’ winners of two.