Stars coming back to something like his best

Willie Mullins’ Thousand Stars came back to something approaching his best when running away with the Grade 2 Keelings’ Irish Strawberry Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday.

Stars coming back to something like his best

The admirable grey was taking his career winnings to about €1m, indicating he may well as good as ever.

His jumping was quite magnificent, as he bowled along near the front for Paul Townend.

The pilot allowed him to stride on with a circuit to go and Thousand Stars maintained a relentless gallop.

The enigmatic favourite, Get Me Out Of Here, tried to close in the straight, but was always fighting a losing battle and there were ten lengths between them at the line.

“He must be an iron horse, he had a hard race at Aintree”, exclaimed a clearly delighted Mullins.

“He seems to do a lot less at home these days, so we put the cheek-pieces on. I don’t think he will go to Punchestown, The French Champion Hurdle (Auteuil) has been his target all season.”

Mullins’ Ivan Grozny held on for dear life to beat Kitten Rock by a head in the Grade 3 Tayto Hurdle.

The winner certainly got first run on the second, having been sent about his business between the final two flights by Townend.

Kitten Rock was soon galvanised by Barry Geraghty, but had too much to do and, though closing with every stride, could never quite get on terms.

Said Mullins: “The hood and fast ground made a difference to him, he is starting to look like the horse he was earlier in the season. Whether Punchestown will come too soon for him, I don’t know.”

Geraghty capped a terrific day when guiding Nicky Henderson’s Une Artiste to beat stable companion, Nadiya De La Vega, in the Grade 3 John And Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares’ Hurdle. Geraghty drove the winner into the lead between the last two fences and the late rush of the second was never a real concern.

“When Naydiya won this race last year, I was at home and started to cry, I had to be here this year”, reported Henderson.

“Barry is fantastic on these big occasions, he just stands out and you couldn’t have a better man.”

Free Expression, trained by Gordon Elliott for J P McManus, justified favouritism in the Racing Post Champion Point-To-Point Bumper.

He was given a patient drive by Nina Carberry, who brought him through with impeccable timing in the straight to beat Clondaw Farmer.

Said Elliott: “He is a big galloping horse, a three-mile chaser, that ground is as good as he would want it. This will be a nice horse, with a summer’s grass.”

Colm Murphy produced Cara’s Oscar to land the Rathbarry And Glenview Studs Handicap Hurdle, following an absence of 262 days.

The Oscar gelding won doing handstands, cruising into the lead for Robbie Power shortly after two out to win going away by an unflattering seven lengths. A fair old hike in the weights is surely inevitable.

Commented Murphy: “I’m delighted with that, he always seems to run best fresh and will bypass Punchestown.

“He has had more than his fair share of little problems. He is not the biggest horse in the world, but has schooled over fences and jumps well.”

Paul Carberry took a fall from Silver Tassie in this contest and was stood down for the rest off the day

The afternoon ended with an impressive win for the Tom Mullins-trained Investment success in the Bumper.

* The attendance was 16,253, up from 15,125 last year.

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