The handicap debutant was produced late to master front-running Vinniespride and triumphed by a length and three-quarters, to the delight of trainer Dessie Hughes, who explained: “It’s a lovely race to win as Carmel was Frank Berry’s sister and Frank and myself are very good friends. I’ll put this fellow in the Galway Hurdle, although I’m not sure he’ll get into it.”
Frank Berry also greeted two winners in his role as Racing Manager to J P McManus — King Leon and Fever Pitch.
Although apparently struggling throughout the final circuit, King Leon (Robbie Power) ultimately wore down Wandering Aengus to land the three-mile T & V Novice Hurdle, prompting Berry to comment: “He jumps well and kept going. The trip and fast ground are a big help to him.”
The McManus double was completed when Fever Pitch (Mark Walsh) was left clear by a last fence blunder by Ballysteen to land the handicap chase, stretching clear to score by nine lengths for Arthur Moore.
Christy Roche declared: “He likes it around here and it’s great that he won,” after Dancing Rio, placed four times on this track last year, landed the Martinstown Opportunity Maiden Hurdle easily under Ben Dalton.
The Jessica Harrington-trained odds-on favourite Cailin Annamh had to work hard under Barry Geraghty to get the better of front-runner Midnight Game in the concluding novice chase, adding to her two hurdle wins on this track last summer.
* Mohsin Khader, a member of Willie Mullins’ stable staff, has died in St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny after suffering a brain aneurysm on Saturday morning.
Mullins had dedicated the victory of Pique Sous in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot that day to him.
He worked for Mullins in County Carlow for eight years and the best horses in his care were dual Cheltenham Festival winner Champagne Fever and Grade One-winning chaser Golden Silver.
Aged 49 and from Bangalore, Khader leaves a wife, Sajida, and six children.
* Mullins meanwhile is set to have at least one runner from three possibles in the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday.
He left top-weight Simenon, Royal Ascot winner Pique Sous and Lucky Bridle in the prestigious two-mile heritage handicap at the confirmation stage.
Simenon was a highly creditable fifth in the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting on Thursday, while Pique Sous took the marathon Queen Alexandra Stakes that concluded proceedings on Saturday.
Mullins will see how they have taken their recent exertions before deciding on their participation.
On the other hand, Lucky Bridle has not been quite as busy, finishing second at Cork a month ago. The five-year-old would be a popular winner as he is owned locally by Andrea and Graham Wylie.
“Lucky Bridle at the moment is a definite runner and I will see how the other two horses are,” said Mullins.
Bookmakers are taking no chances on Pique Sous after he justified strong support at the weekend, and the seven-year-old, who has a 5lb penalty for that success, is 6-1 favourite with Ladbrokes, Betfred and Paddy Power.
All three Mullins’ representatives are guaranteed a place in the maximum 20-strong line-up, although plenty of connections will be disappointed as 60 stood their ground yesterday.
* Eddie Lynam’s sprinting stars Sole Power and Slade Power are set to clash for a second time in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.
The pair gave owners David and Sabena Power the week of a lifetime when winning the King’s Stand Stakes and Diamond Jubilee respectively at Royal Ascot and are on course for the six-furlong championship on July 12.
Both ran in the July Cup last summer, with Slade Power finishing third to Lethal Force with Sole Power just a neck and a head behind in fifth place.
As long as the two horses are in good form, connections are likely to let them take their chance.
“They are both going for it at the moment. They are both very well. Sole Power was ridden out this morning, Sole Power was out as well and both are in great nick,” Lynam told At the Races.
“Their owners are very sporting and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t go for it. There was only half a length between them last year. I think Slade Power has improved. Sole Power didn’t get things to go right for him last year with his draw.