Gutsy Aerlite rules supreme

Aerlite Supreme gained a gutsy win over the flattering Usa in the featured P & D Lydon Plant Hire Rated Hurdle in Ballinrobe yesterday, completing a double for trainer Michael Hourigan and Adrian Heskin.

Dropping back in trip, the seven-year-old pressed favourite Noble Inn all the way and, having edged ahead, was headed by the runner-up jumping the last. But Heskin rallied his mount and he stayed on to score by a neck, with the favourite back in third.

"I won a race here with Keephergoing for the same lads twenty years ago and, to be honest, I didn’t think this horse would win tonight, over two miles around here. They went slow and I was worried. But he put his head down and fought. He’s not the easiest horse and should have won more races before now."

Hourigan will try to find a suitable opportunity for Aerlite Supreme at Punchestown next week, but stressed: "He jumps fences well and chasing will be his game."

Hourigan savoured the emphatic victory of Holeinthewall Bar in the opening Ladies Day Maiden Hurdle, Adrian Heskin’s mount scoring in the colours of Stevie Fahy, owner of the hostelry of that name in Galway.

Hourigan explained: "Stevie has been a patron for a long time. He was very sick twenty years ago, with meningitis, and was in a coma for about twelve months. I won six races for him during that time with a horse called Stevie Be. But this is the first winner I’ve trained for him when he was able to be here.

"He’s a nice horse that promised a lot, but my horses haven’t been firing. This was his first run after a break and I told Stevie that I’d bring him west for him. I’d say he’ll come west again."

Robert Tyner saddled the J P McManus-owned Sir Abbot to justify 4/6 favouritism, under a confident Robbie McNamara in the bumper, the five-year-old coming from off the pace and quickening well to beat market rival New Kid In Town readily.

Tyner commented: "My horses are a bit hit and miss at the moment, for the last three or four weeks — some of them are sick. But this fellow is nice.

"I thought Robbie was a small bit over-confident on him and felt he was a stayer after his run at Leopardstwn. But the way he quickened tonight impressed me. He’s a lovely mover and could be kept on the go."

Supreme Vic, a lucky spare ride for 7lb. claimer Shane Shortall, provided Norman Lee with his first training success under rules when getting up close home to foil Bye Bye O Bye by a head in the Hollymount Nursing Home Handicap Hurdle.

Lee, a native of Tubber, County Clare, trains near Gort and reported: "We have a good bunch of horses that could be well-handicapped. This mare is improving with age and we might find another little race for her. It’s great to win — this is our Gold Cup."

Johnny Levins registered his first success over jumps when Noble Call, ridden by Brian O’Connell, captured the Connacht Spring Show Handicap Hurdle while the Charlie Swan-trained Rodriquez, a welcome winner for David Casey, was a lucky victor in the beginners chase, being left in command when the saddle slipped on leader Bouncing Betty, causing Martin Ferris to be unseated.

Philip Rothwell, so close to Irish Grand National glory with Saoirse Dun on Monday, saddled a one-two in the Treacy’s Pharmacy Handicap Chase as locally-owned Imperial Joey (Mark Enright), backed from 12/1 to 8/1, got the better of 2/1 favourite Cheap As Chips.

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