Bob back in the big time

Ruby Walsh’s grim determination to get back from injury to ride at the Punchestown festival reaped a massive dividend when he drove Boston Bob to win the biggest prize of the week, the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Gold Cup yesterday.

For Walsh it was his fifth success in the race and this surely must have given him the greatest pleasure.

The return has been nothing short of remarkable and his display from the saddle was simply awesome.

Barry Geraghty, almost unbeatable, produced First Lieutenant to lead after the third last and Mouse Morris’ charge looked as if he was finally going to deliver this season.

But, not for the first time, he merely flattered to deceive. First Lieutenant still held the call, narrowly, at the last, but Walsh was now forcing Boston Bob to hunt down the leader.

And, in a matter of strides, it was all over. Boston Bob roared ahead and crossed the line three and a quarter lengths clear of First Lieutenant, a margin that would have been quite unthinkable approaching the last.

Walsh later indicated that he might well have gone out the side door after that final fence.

Said Walsh: “He jinked and I was heading for the pavilion, all of his family have done it. When your luck is in you stay on and, when it’s out, end up on your arse.

“I have probably redeemed myself a little bit from the ride I gave Boston Bob (finished second) in the Albert Bartlett (Cheltenham) a couple of years ago.”

Mullins told Walsh to ride Boston Bob, in preference to Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up, On His Own.

Said Mullins: “Ruby thanked me when he got down off Boston Bob. This is a horse that has been unlucky twice at Cheltenham and is now getting the reward for the work he has been showing me at home.

“I don’t think there’s any more for him this season, good ground is not a problem. I am now going to have to train him next season as a Gold Cup horse. He might start off here in the John Durkan.”

On His Own ran no sort of race and appeared to be feeling the effects of Cheltenham. He was in front from the start, but Paul Townend was soon niggling him along and was a spent force a long way from home. The ten-year-old was later found to be lame.

It was the third time Mullins has won the race and, rather surprisingly, the first occasion Walsh and himself have combined to land the prize together.

Boston Bob, of course, is owned by Graham and Andrea Wylie and they were back in the winner’s enclosure after another Mullins inmate, Shaneshill, turned over Dermot Weld’s hot pot, Silver Concorde, in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper.

The success was a mild surprise as far as Mullins, who had four runners in the race, was concerned.

“He had been working middling all week and was the fourth choice with the work riders”, revealed Mullins.

It’s what happens out on the track that matters, though, and Shanesill, who was second to Silver Concorde at Cheltenham, didn’t half reverse the placings.

Jamie Codd made his move off the home turn and this powerful galloper dragged the finishing kick out of Silver Concorde, beating him by two lengths.

Continuing Mullins said: “I thought Jamie might have gone a bit soon, but he got the speed horses off the bridle. He looks like a staying novice hurdler for next season.”

Said Codd: “These are the races you want to be winning. I started with Willie and had five great years with him.”

Codd, however, was suspended for two days, having been found guilty of using his whip with excessive force and frequency.

Nicky Henderson’s Aintree winner Beat That was all the rage in the market for the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle and the wagers were landed, after he benefited from a powerful Barry Geraghty drive.

Two of the great practitioners of the game were at it again here, Geraghty and Walsh (Don Poli), as they went at it up the straight, with Beat That just prevailing in a driving finish by three parts of a length.

Reported Henderson: “Barry said he had a gruelling race at Aintree and wasn’t quite on the button today.

“It is very exciting to be putting something like this away for the summer and deciding what to do with him next season.

“The horse has only run four times over hurdles. He did a bit of work last Saturday that wasn’t brilliant, but has worked like that before. He is a three-mile chaser in the making.”

The well-backed Liz Doyle-trained Le Vent D’Antan outclassed his rivals in the Louis Fitzgerald Hurdle to score by six lengths.

Confidently handled by Davy Russell, he jumped and travelled beautifully through the contest.

Russell asked him to lead coming away from the second last and the five-year-old eased clear to beat Emperor Of Exmoor by six lengths.

Commented Doyle: “Barry (Geraghty) got off him at Fairyhouse and said he wanted good ground.

“The horse blew like a train and I thought I am going to have to learn to do a lot better than this. I really got stuck into him over the last three weeks.

“Davy thinks he will be a stone better as a chaser. That’s a good note to end the season on and he will come back over fences.”

Jody McGarvey gave Master Oscar a terrific drive to take the Martinstown Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle.

Successful previously in a modest maiden a Limerick, Christy Roche’s charge stepped well up on that performance.

McGarvey gambled on the gaps appearing on the fair rail and it worked like a dream. The winner got a super run, flew the final flight and was always doing enough on the flat to score by half a length.

Bookmakers got a much needed screamer in the Guinness Handicap Chase when 28-1 shot Orpheus Valley and Adrian Heskin held on for dear life, as Competitive Edge and Tony McCoy closed with every stride, the verdict half a length.

For in-form Heskin, who has enjoyed an excellent campaign, it was a 100th career success.

Fletchers Flyer, given a seriously intelligent drive by Derek O’Connor, got the best of a terrific battle with Sub Lieutenant and Totally Dominant in the concluding Bumper to give up and coming English trainer, Harry Fry, his first ever winner in Ireland.

* The attendance was 15,748, down from 16, 410 last year.

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